Offices are becoming a meeting-place

Published on 27/07/2022 in Inspire

Workplaces are transforming into meeting-places where creativity and collaboration are key. Johan Van Neck, IDEWE Group Director of Risk Management, shares how our way of working has revolutionized building design.

Offices are becoming a meeting-place

Without question, the pandemic sped up several issues. But the open-plan office? Even before the pandemic, there was a sense that it had outlived its use. Johan Van Neck is the Risk Management Director at the IDEWE Group. He explained how our way of working has revolutionized building design: “Our workplace needs to facilitate the company’s operations today. The incorporation of remote work turned the office into what is now mainly a creative hub.”

Offices, these days, mainly function as meeting-places due to the incorporation of remote work.

Johan Van Neck, IDEWE Group Risk Management Director


The activity-based workplace

Activity-based workplaces are the future. And the organization’s exigencies and operations determine its design. “It’s a bottom-up process,” emphasized Van Neck. “It’s got to be co-designed with your employees, not just the facility managers and CEO. But the company purpose, in particular, has to be the driver."

Flexible design for sustainable use

Obviously, an organization’s needs and activities aren’t fixed in stone. They change with the times. For that reason, tomorrow’s workplace should be designed for flexibility so that future changes don’t require major renovations. “That’s also positive in terms of sustainable material use, i.e., with an interior design built from circular economy materials. Contemporary buildings are no more than a temporary warehouse for materials that will be repurposed later on.” For example, flexible wall systems spring to mind. But renting, lighting and elevators are also part of it. “Renting is our best bet for sustainable use,” said Van Neck.

Contemporary buildings are no more than a temporary warehouse for materials.

Johan Van Neck, IDEWE Group Risk Management Director

WELL Certificate

Studies prove that contemporary work environments incorporating health and wellbeing into their design improve performance. “Employee productivity is higher, and there is less absenteeism and turnover. On top of that, it also boosts employer branding and corporate social responsibility (CSR).” The WELL Building Standard provides guidance for designing new builds and raising the wellbeing standards of existing buildings. There are ten fields of focus, i.e., air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community.

Fluid workplaces

Today’s work rhythm is fluid. Contemporary offices are where employees come and go based on their remote-to-in-office work balance. “The design and available technology have to support this hybrid work practice. You should be able to book an individual workstation along with a meeting room or an auditorium. And each location needs to be equipped with excellent audiovisual equipment so that anyone working from home can participate without difficulty.”

Mobility is another key issue. “There’s no need for everyone to have their own parking space. However, people working at the office should be able to reserve one or be able to get there easily by public transport.”

Lead by example

Wellbeing is at the top of prevention advisor IDEWE’s agenda regarding its service and its relationship with its employees. Consequently, they also aim to lead the health and wellbeing-driven building design movement. IDEWE embodies that role by building according to the WELL Building Standard, and they hope, soon, to obtain WELL certification.

The right workplace for every job

“Our employees requested a special focus on air quality, acoustics, movement, and a homey atmosphere. And we’re making that a reality,” said Van Neck. “The offices perfectly match the various activities that take place there. They’re designed to be open and activity-based.” Employees select their workplace based on whatever they’re currently working on – at home or in the office. “Our new way of working provides the right workplace for every job.”

Johan Van Neck, IDEWE Group Risk Management Director

IDEWE supports over 35,000 employers and 822,000 employees by setting up safe, healthy work environments. Based out of 11 regional offices and powered by over 900 employees – they get the job done.

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