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Business services sector needs modern offices

Over 70 percent of companies from the business services sector are planning to expand their office space in the next two years. According to “BPO and Shared Service Centres’ management speak out on real estate”, a joint report by Skanska and JLL, and prepared under the patronage of ABSL, a modern and conveniently located office adjusted to numerous and different working styles can create a competitive advantage for a company in the so-called “war for talents” as well as contribute to an increase of work productivity.

According to ABSL, there are over 500 business services centers with foreign capital employing approximately 150,000 specialists in Poland. By 2020, the industry may employ up to 250,000 specialists.

Arkadiusz Rudzki, Leasing & Asset Director at Skanska Property Poland, said: “Rapid workforce expansion is characteristic of companies from the business services sector. According to ABSL, the number of people working in outsourcing centers has increased by 30 percent since 2013 and the majority of companies are planning to expand employment in the next few years. The demand for office space grows in step with the sector’s development as outsourcing companies are the main engines for the increase in office space demand on Poland’s regional markets. It is estimated that in the period between Q1 and Q3 2015 companies from the sector generated approx. 50% of take-up in cities outside Warsaw.”

According to the latest report by Skanska, JLL and ABSL, BPO/SSC centers will need modern office space in existing and new locations as a result of winning new projects and, in turn, the increase in employment these would bring.
Anna Bartoszewicz-Wnuk, Head of Research and Consulting at JLL, commented: “According to the report by Skanska and JLL, over 70 percent of foreign companies from the business services sector are planning to expand their office space in the next two years. Furthermore, 41 percent of BPO/SSC companies are planning to relocate to new offices in the next three years. This is due to a number of factors including the lack of opportunity to expand in the current project and the desire to change to an improved location or to a higher standard of a building. In addition, the opportunity to adjust the office space to the needs of companies, the ever changing working environment and specificity of tasks performed by staff is also of crucial importance”.

All of these actions contribute to increasing a company’s attractiveness in the eyes of potential employees.
“Managers representing the BPO/SSC sector perceive offices as potential tools for gaining a competitive advantage during recruitment processes. 87% of respondents claim that modern space designed to increase productivity can entice the employee to select a particular employer that offers such office space”, comments Anna Młyniec, Head of Office Agency and Tenant Representation at JLL.

Employers focus greatly on the location of the office, its accessibility through public and private transportation, lease costs and the building’s high technical standards. The location can be central, but not necessarily, as swift commuting is of crucial importance.

“When asked about amenities that should be included in a building, both managers and their teams from business services centers, pointed to bike parking as being the most important followed by restaurant as well as open-access showers and changing rooms,” added Anna Bartoszewicz-Wnuk.

Employees working in offices value the opportunity to open windows (87 percent of respondents). Companies from the BPO/SSC sector often demand that the power supply is secured by two independent switching stations. In case of complete power failure, 81 percent of companies require power back-up via a generator for server rooms.

Inefficient air-conditioning and ventilation systems are the most annoying aspects of office space (62 percent of respondents). Another issue is the limited access to natural daylight.

“An example of an office that will be functional for employees by providing a good and healthy working environment is the Atrium 2 office building developed by our company in Warsaw. After completion, the project will provide access to natural daylight to at least 70 percent of space, and 30% more fresh air when compared to standard buildings. Furthermore, it will be the only building in the heart of Warsaw to be equipped with loggias for employees”, says Arkadiusz Rudzki.

Sustainable development appears to be an increasingly significant aspect for managers from services centers when selecting new office space. For 45% of respondents, it is important that a building holds a green certificate (LEED, BREEAM and DGNB) which guarantees its quality and maintains if not boosts a company’s image.

Typically BPO/SSC companies have their offices in an open-space standard with separated meeting rooms (68 percent of respondents). This is in line with the general trend for offices in Poland. Only 13 percent occupy offices with a cellular lay-out. Most probably, they conduct business within buildings with lower standards where the opportunity to arrange space according to open-space principles is limited due to the building’s structure.

“We are noticing growing interest in modern working environments arranged in accordance with the concept of offices adjusted to the “activity based workplace” philosophy. Approximately 10 percent of BPO/SSC centers questioned operate in working environment which provide relaxation zones, creative working areas, hot-desking etc. We believe that such solutions will continue to gain popularity in the future,” added Arkadiusz Rudzki.

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