Business services sector speaks on optimal office solutions to suit business needs in Poland

Office space flexibility, efficiency and security of operations are fundamental requirements for office buildings in the advanced business services sector
According to new research conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle, Skanska and the Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland (ABSL)

Warsaw, September 11, 2012 – Jones Lang LaSalle presents unique research concerning the business services sector: BPO/SSC: the sector speaks on optimal office solutions to suit business needs in Poland. The analysis is the result of co-operation between Jones Lang LaSalle, Skanska and the Association of Business Service Leaders in Poland (ABSL).

The objective of this white paper is to present office space related needs for the outsourcing sector in Poland so that modern office buildings, being developed countrywide, may most accurately respond to the specific demands from this increasingly significant occupier group. The report's findings are based upon detailed surveys carried out amongst key corporations representing this sector, as well as face-to-face meetings and interviews.

Over the course of the last few years, Poland has emerged as a globally important shoring destination and, as a result, is a Central and Eastern European powerhouse in the area of advanced business services sector employment. This is borne out by the annual headcount which grew by 20% between 2008 and 2011. Furthermore, it is forecast that this business category, specifically centres with international capital, will have employed approximately 100,000 people by the end of 2012. Unsurprisingly, business services centres have become a key occupier group in the major office markets across Poland, and most recently, in smaller cities where office projects are being specifically developed for this sector as well.

Three elements underpin the functional and technical requirements of this type of occupier: flexibility, efficiency of office space and the security of operations. Set out below are the report's key findings, centered around these three core aspects.

Office space flexibility

Companies from the BPO/SSC sector operate primarily in open-plan offices. Most tenants have separate conference rooms in their offices, up to a maximum of 20% of the total area.

Anna Kot, Head of Office Agency and Tenant Representation Department, Jones Lang LaSalle, commented "An open space arrangement presents an opportunity for flexible workspace design, including space optimization solutions such as shared-desking. Importantly, the number of employees in companies from this sector is subject to fluctuations connected with acquiring new clients and rising recruitment needs. Unsurprisingly, the survey respondents admitted they would appreciate an opportunity of lease extension within the same office complex, in the event of substantial employment growth. Smaller employment growth is usually managed by reorganizing occupied space. Such space, however, needs to be flexible. Office space rearrangements are a common phenomenon among tenants from the business services sector."

Office space efficiency

Almost half of the surveyed firms prefer an area of 7 to 8 sq m for each employee working in the office, with a further 24% choosing 8 to 9 sq m per person. In a company's headquarters, this ratio usually ranges from 11 to 15 sq m. A high floor density level might cause problems with ventilation. 61.5% of respondents believe that they only require a minimum hourly air inflow of 30 cu m per person as required by law. 38.5% of companies, however, have higher standards of ventilation. Apart from an efficient ventilation system, companies from the BPO/SSC sector prefer air conditioning systems based on fan coil units and most of them would like to be able to regulate the base temperature by +/-3 C.

"In addition to mechanical ventilation, there is also natural air inflow. The majority of the companies surveyed from the sector want to have the possibility of opening windows in their offices, even if they lose some control over the air conditioning system. Tilt windows work especially well in a period characterized by moderate temperatures" - Anna Kot explains.

Security of operations

Security issues remain of great importance. This is reflected in the fact that the survey's respondents pay great attention to office building location, which is among the tenants' top three priorities. For more than 50% of the companies, it is not of great importance whether the location is in or outside the city center, as long as the city's public transport network is well-developed. One third of them (36%), however, strongly prefer locations outside the city centre, mostly due to the cost factor. Only 11% of companies want to be located in the central district, in order to facilitate commuting from different parts of the city.

Anna Kot says: "It is not only the availability of public transport that matters, but also the number of vehicles and frequency. The close proximity of bus or tram stops is particularly important as many employees finish their work at the same. This issue is raised in particular by centres operating 24/7 and providing business services to clients from outside Europe."

43% of poll respondents demand that the lifts from underground car parks should only go to the ground floor. It would improve security as people arriving at the office could be verified by the receptionists before they reach the upper floors. It is vital to learn such needs of the tenants at the early stage of a project, since they may prove difficult to meet after completion.

Security also means energy independence. The standard demand for companies in the sector is double power supply. 83% of respondents demand that, in case of external power cuts, the companies' servers are supplied with energy from an internal power source. Moreover, more than half of those interviewed require maintaining the functionality of workplaces in case of external power cuts. They also need a second generator, which can replace the first one in case of emergency. This is why the preparation of a suitable location for the generator is so crucial during the early stages of an office building's design.

Paweł Warda, Head of Project & Development Services CEE, Jones Lang LaSalle, says "The research also points out problems tenants struggle with while using the office space. These problems include an inefficient air-conditioning system, with cooling aimed directly at employees' heads or an insufficient number of wall mounted control units in open spaces. Elevators that are slow and unable to serve an appropriate number of people are also an issue. For more than 50% of companies it does not matter whether a building holds a green certificate such as BREEAM, DGNB or LEED. However, during the interviews, companies suggested that aspects factors that are included in the building certification process are desirable to them. Almost all of the companies surveyed (96%) are also involved in CSR activities, which, if not now, surely in the near future will translate into a desire to invest in green buildings and promote sustainable development".

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