CEE Office report: Is your workplace Millennial-ready?

77% of CEE-based professionals say work-life balance is the most important factor in the workplace

Among factors connected with the physical office, location was seen as very important by 58%

28% of professionals in the CEE strongly agree that working in a co-working / flexible space is appealing. A further 40% agreed slightly

Just under half currently have agile working available to them and 65% rarely or never use hot-desking

Over 65% of CEE-based professionals disagree with the introduction of technology that monitors employee location in the office

A clear majority are not concerned with the impact of artificial intelligence on their job roles

A new report by Colliers International and international law firm CMS has found that one-third of professionals in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)[1] believe their workplace will change over the next 2-3 years. The firms’ second annual report, ‘CEE Office Real Estate Compass: Is your workplace Millennial-ready[2], looks at the changing nature of the workplace in CEE and includes a survey of 72 CEE-based professionals drawn from the spectrum of geography and seniority.

Work-life balance key to workplace satisfaction

Over three-quarters of respondents regarded work-life balance as the most important factor when choosing an organisation to work for, while salary, leadership development opportunities and location were also considered key to workplace satisfaction. Office design and facilities were less important – only 37% of respondents said these factors were very important – while
a mere 18% considered an office’s sustainability and “green credentials” to be a significant characteristic of a modern office.

Mark Robinson, CEE Research Specialist, Colliers International, comments:

“Co-working proved popular among respondents, particularly those based in capital cities. Over a quarter of those surveyed agreed that working in a co-working / flexible space was appealing, with a further 40% agreeing slightly. Breaking this down by geography, it was found that 36% of capital city centre-located respondents strongly agreed with co-working. Only 4% strongly disagreed.”

Agile working, including working from home, is growing in use across the region. 49% of professionals said that agile working was available to them and used at least some of the time, and 57% indicated the same for working from home. Agile working proved more common for those operating at Management Board and senior management levels, indicating that there is some way to go before this way of working becomes common practice for millennials in CEE.

How will technology affect the office of the future?

Advances in technology, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and the introduction of “smart office” solutions, will continue to present opportunities and challenges for employees and the firms that employ them.

When asked about the introduction of technology that monitors employee location whilst in the office, only 4% of respondents in CEE were very comfortable with this idea. 65% disagreed with this concept, of which 44% disagreed strongly. This is in stark contrast to views in the UK. According to CMS’ 2017 UK Real Estate Report: Smart. Healthy. Agile, 65% of UK office workers were comfortable with this tracking technology.

However, there were similar views shared across both regions. When asked whether AI would affect their roles in the future, 65% of professionals in CEE and 55% in the UK were not at all concerned.

Sylwia Pędzińska, Director of Workplace Innovation department at Colliers International, comments:

“In the years ahead, there will be more companies investing in artificial intelligence and automation of recurring processes in order to increase competitiveness. Importantly, work based on interpersonal relationships will still play a key role, though the model of work in which an employee is assigned to one specific desk, is expected to change. Future work will require employees to take a more holistic look, analyse and draw conclusions, which will result in creative solutions. Office space should stimulate creative work and sharing knowledge.”

Security in the workplace gains importance

Recent geopolitical events and crises have changed the way that millennials view job security. According to Deloitte’s 2018 study “First Steps into the Labour Market,” which examines CEE millennials’ expectations of the workplace, the majority of millennials are less willing to change jobs and see higher value in full-time employment. The research also shows that flexibility is key for this group. This applies to work time, career paths, training and evaluation systems, as well as dress code and the workplace.

Wojciech Koczara, CMS’ CEE Head of Real Estate comments:

“Our study shows that employees, and in particular millennials, have fresh expectations of what an office environment should deliver. Employees are demanding more flexibility, creative solutions to co-working and an environment which feels like a community. It is critical that employers and landlords embrace new ways of thinking and working to attract and retain employees.

“Many organisations are leading the way in creating this new office environment. From ‘Pets at Work’ – a programme developed by Nestle Purina Petcare Poland to encourage companies to experience the benefits of bringing dogs into the office, to Adgar Poland who have created their highly successful Brain Embassy – an innovative co-creating space to foster creativity – organisations are putting innovative ideas into action and showing us the office of the future.”

Consequences for CEE office real estate

The survey suggests that transformations are coming to the office sector in CEE. Tenants may seek more flexible, perhaps shorter term, tenancy arrangements, however strong economies in the region have seen vacancy rates fall and some negotiating power perhaps flowing back to landlords and managers.

These trends may already be encouraging developers and landlords in CEE to consider shared workplace solutions within their office buildings and may see developers tackle more well-located brownfield sites. As Agnieszka Skorupinska, Counsel at CMS points out in the report, “local regulations provide for many options that can mitigate the costs associated with contamination making brownfield interesting investment opportunities.”