Creative work and employee well-being in focus: office buildings of the future

While the working environment is an increasingly important aspect for employees, architects’ hands are more and more tied. Clients focus on practical considerations when designing office buildings. Future offices, however, are likely to be based on the “well” concept that encourages the construction of spaces inspiring creative work and promoting employee well-being. Please read on to learn more about the analysis of architectural, development and HR considerations by Gábor Zoboki, Nóra Demeter, Gábor Radványi, Lajos Hartvig and Judit Endrei-Kiss on the 10th anniversary of the Telenor House.

With the labour market and the way of working changing, the office becomes an increasingly important living space for people. Architects need to design liveable and lovable spaces to facilitate employee retention. People stay with a company if they feel comfortable at work. What are the key motivations and requirements of the Y generation? What are the major factors affecting employee well-being and what are the challenges that architects need to overcome? The trends of the local office market and their implications for employees and HR management were discussed at a roundtable session involving prominent representatives of the Hungarian architecture community. 

The Telenor House is still considered a special building in the Hungarian office market due to its many conceptual innovations, unique space development, building technology and engineering solutions and people-centric approach. The office building with a floorspace of nearly 12,000 square meters had been designed by the architects of ZDA-Zoboki Design & Architecture for 2 years. The building has a per capita space 2 square meters more on average compared to a standard rentable office block. The approach focusing on people and community was rather uncommon a decade ago, but now it is fully in line with today’s labour market requirements and working culture. 

Gábor Zoboki, Lead Architect of the Telenor House, recalled the generosity they experienced when designing the building. “In response to the client’s request, me and my colleagues were preparing high-level designs for the building for 18 months. Today, this is no longer expected by clients. They don’t believe that the environment has a huge impact on human lives. Yet space can influence and even change your quality of life. A good HQ building is not a work of art but a place of practical use. The Telenor House is made unique by its generous spaces, engineering implementation, material use and the spirit of freedom permeating the building as a whole”, said the Director of ZDA-Zoboki Design and Architecture, also known as designers of the Palace of Arts.

What do employees want?

The labour market’s dominant Y generation cannot be motivated using traditional tools alone. Young people have very different requirements when selecting their workplace compared to older generations which should also be reflected by the built environment. “You cannot be creative at a workplace unless it is people-centric. Besides meaningful and motivating work, good working conditions are also a must. The working environment is now being shaped along the same principles that were used to design the Telenor House 10 years ago. The workplace should definitely be a friendly environment for the people working there”, said Lajos Hartvig, Owner of Bánáti Hartvig Architects adding that architects have a responsibility to understand people’s workplace needs and convey these needs to their client. 

With the borderline between work and private life getting increasingly blurred, the office is often a second home for people. As a result, the working environment is just as important for employees as quality of work and benefits are. In today’s office market, the people-centricity represented by the Telenor House is rather uncommon. “The world and also we have changed a lot over the past ten years. But this HQ building has been able to fulfil today’s employee needs from the outset. This building is a community space and a living space for us where everybody can find inspiring places for themselves in the spacious interior. If we had to decide today whether to move here or not, we would make the same decision. And if somebody wants to work out-of-office occasionally, we are flexible. Colleagues can access our internal systems from virtually anywhere. This way, we satisfy another distinct need of the Y generation: teleworking”, said Judit Endrei-Kiss, Chief HR Officer of Telenor. 

When designing the building, the key guiding principle was to enable interaction, collaboration, communication and provide people with private space at the same time. “Such a building cannot be created today because both clients and designers follow a less people-centric approach. Interior designers are given very specific instructions on the number of people to be accommodated in a given floor space. It is not possible to design generous spaces like those of the Telenor House if you have a high density of people. Yet, the quality of office space is an important factor in employee retention. Ten years ago, everybody installed slides in their office buildings, but it turned out that slides don’t make people stay with a company. People stay if they have a good time. They want light, tranquillity and community spaces”, said Nóra Demeter, Interior Designer, founder of Demeter Design Studio and co-founder of ZDA. 

“It makes a difference whether you get your garments tailor made or buy ready-to-wear clothes”, said Gábor Radványi to illustrate the difference between rentable offices and corporate HQs. “This building is the equivalent of a luxurious detached house rather than a condominium with hundreds of apartments. It is competitive with today’s office buildings by any measure. In terms of the materials used, as well as the architectural and engineering solutions selected, this is a future-proof building for the purpose the company group had in mind”, said Gábor Radványi, Chief Architect of Futureal Group. For a property developer who is not familiar with client needs in advance and has no idea of whether a building would accommodate a private hospital or an office, the key measure of future-proofness is flexibility. If a building is flexible, it can adapt to changing usage needs. This applies also to the location – whether the building can be operated efficiently if more people work from home and whether it can be repurposed to fulfil a different function if needed, he added. 

Virtual tour at the Telenor House. Explore the building from the comfort of your home!

Roof terrace, gym and evolution wall? Telenor launched a special chatbot to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its HQ building. Using the’Telenor Ház Túrabot’ chatbot, you can explore the building any time. 

Photos about the 10-year-old Telenor House: