Lucia Skálová is a Workplace Project Manager at Kiwi.com. In simple terms, she makes sure that everyone, both visitors and employees, feel good in the environment of our offices. Find out how she became interested in the field, where she gets her inspiration and the challenges of working in Facilities.
If you want to become a Workplace Strategist, studying economics and sports at university isn’t the best starting place. Believe me. I found out the hard way. The ideal background would be in architecture or perhaps interior design, combined with courses that help you understand organisational behaviour and social psychology. I was always attracted by design, architecture and psychology, but regrettably I never gave it a shot.
Workplace Design: The unseen opportunity
In Central Europe, Workplace Strategists usually work within the Facilities Teams of medium to large companies. Due to a number of reasons, it tends to be one of the professional fields that doesn’t really get the recognition it deserves. For this reason, there aren’t so many opportunities to acquire a complex field specific education–not mentioning that if you want to deepen your knowledge and build on your qualifications, you’re almost completely dependent on online resources. Job opportunities in the field are rare, and there are only a few companies that support their Facilities Teams sufficiently enough to ensure the company environment contributes to the overall company success. The funny part is that the role of Facilities Manager is among the best paid positions in the US. Should I start applying for my Green Card?
The path to my current job wasn’t bad at all. During my studies I was looking for a job–spending a lot of time trying to discover what exactly my dream job could be, unaware that workplace is my thing. In my first job I was curious who was responsible for the operation of the offices–who and why someone chose that type of layout, that design, and that furniture. I had many ideas about how I could change it, improve it, make it more user friendly and that was the starting point for me. The answer was simple–Facilities. And since then my curiosity began to grow..
Workspace design learning path
In my short career I’ve experienced big open spaces, medium size offices, small offices and every one of them had their advantages and disadvantages. I saw modern offices with great attention to design or very functional offices where design was not a priority. I can say that each employer had different view on the facilities and workplace strategy, and how important it was for the company. Lately, I found a very nice quote and I agree with it “The workplace is as good as the behaviours of the people using it”.
I started working in facilities operations and later I got more into workplace design. How? My learning path was based on learning from experience, working on projects, attending various online courses, and reading blogs, articles, case studies and work design books.
If you’re looking to get into workplace design, here’s what I’ve been using to learn and be inspired:
- LinkedIn communities: Workplace Trends, Workplace Evolutionaries
- Reading at the moment: The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees by Jeanne Meister and Kevin Mulcahy, The Office: A Facility Based on Change by Robert Propst
The impact of Facilities Management is becoming more and more visible these days. With that, I hope and believe that more opportunities for field specific education will become available, and companies will start to invest more in this area. Why? Continue reading!
What does your office say about your business?
Nowadays it’s not easy to attract qualified, skilled and talented people, let alone keeping them happy and being able to retain them. When you have the chance to build a new office, you’re in the perfect position to create an efficient and appealing space for your employees. It’s not only about a nice design and comfy chairs. You need to be sure that people will be eager to interact with each other within the environment you’ve created. Their workplace should enable them to collaborate in a better way, become more productive and think outside that well known imaginary box. To be able to deliver this, you need to understand exactly what your people need and how they like to work.
An office can say a lot about the whole culture of your business. The question is, how do you create an office space that makes people want to come to work and be productive? It’s not just about the wow factor, although that’s important as well–it’s about space that helps businesses grow. The office environment can affect employee productivity, drive knowledge-sharing, and enhance employee well-being, creativity and engagement. Remember, workplace is now being seen as a significant factor in recruiting and maintaining talent–your employees are the most precious customers you’ll ever have.
Whether you’re designing a completely new office space, trying to re-organise your current office set up, or just looking into how you can boost productivity, it’s worth exploring what workplace can do for you. In a nutshell, find out: how the buildings are set out, how people work together, how and where they meet, and how they engage.
The case study: Kiwi.com offices
I joined Kiwi.com shortly after the company moved from a beautiful 30s villa to our current modern offices located in a business park in the suburbs of Brno where our team worked on the design alongside Kaplan Architects. At the time, the company was experiencing massive growth, and had just rebranded. The team had to keep up with all these changes while maintaining the company culture. It wasn’t an easy task to design the office of a company which was, and still is, evolving so fast. It meant tight deadlines, daily changes and new needs being discovered–all caused by enormous employee growth. The specification of the space was discussed till very last days before the build was complete. One of the essential requirements was to bring the unforgettable atmosphere from the original villa into our new space.
Throughout the office, we enjoy large kitchens and dining spaces that allows us to sit down and enjoy our breaks and lunches with our friends and colleagues. We also have an array of collaborative open spaces with smart walls that help us brainstorm and discuss complex ideas.The floor for our developers is a little different from the other spaces around the office and is broken down into open, semi closed, and closed offices to ensure each employee can find a place that fits their needs.
An important part of the project is devoted to relaxation and entertainment–this is incorporated in our relaxation rooms, playroom, fitness area, sauna and massage room. On the other hand, our never-sleeping service centre is a space that boasts efficiency and simplicity, helping to ensure quick communication among the teams that provide non-stop care to our clients around the world.
We currently have more than 8000m2 where we can be productive and enjoy our time spent at work. Check the photos for yourself!