Office renovation - surgery on a living organism

Nina Wiater talks to Filip Sundmann, Supply Planning Director at COTY, about re-arranging office space, listening to employees' needs and giving new life to used furniture.

NW:  Warsaw Towers is an excellent location for international teams. Why did you decide to stay in your current location? The end of a lease agreement usually represents a good time for a change.

FS: The decision was mainly dictated by the location. Warsaw Towers is well served by buses, trams, and the metro which are all important as most of our employees commute by public transport. We wanted to remain in the current building which is situated in the city center. The opinion of our employees was of great importance to us as well, and most of them showed a willingness to stay at Warsaw Towers. Moreover, we are satisfied with the changes in the building that have been introduced by the owner in recent years. They have significantly increased the comfort of our employees.

NW: What innovative solutions have you managed to implement in the process of office re-arrangement? Did you draw inspiration from the market?

FS: When refurbishing the office, we worked closely with a team of experts from JLL. Thanks to their support, we managed, among other things, to organize focus groups, which helped us to identify the most important needs of our employees. The work and discussions in teams resulted in the introduction of more focus rooms and small rooms for individual work or for work in smaller teams. These aspects were what our employees wanted to be implemented in the new office. We also replaced desks and chairs, introducing more ergonomic solutions. The whole area and its decor was designed in the spirit of the “well-being” philosophy, thanks to which we have managed to create a friendly office that supports creative and productive work. We have also completely changed the layout of the kitchen - previously it was a typical canteen, now our employees have more cozy and comfortable spaces at their disposal.

The distinguishing feature of our new redevelopment, we call "beauty corners", are stands where our employees have the opportunity to test Coty products.

NW: The refurbishment performed on this “living organism” was a major challenge for both employees and the renovation crews. How did you cope with this? Did it interfere with the functioning of the business?

FS: We have not noticed any disruption to our business. As for the employees who had to relocate due to the renovation, we rented temporary space in another area of the building. We have increased the use of conference rooms, which at times served as effective open spaces. Working in these conditions required a great deal of planning and preparation, yet thanks to the support of specialists from JLL, we managed to keep all employees in the building during all phases of the renovation works. We completed the entire refurbishment as planned, in December 2019.

NW: What was the relocation process like?

FS: We divided the process into three phases, which were designed in the same way. Each phase assumed that about 70-90 people would rotate their workplaces. The office was divided into three parts so that the whole space was used proportionally. The moves were made during the weekend - we always started on Friday evening and finished on Sunday, so every Monday morning the appropriate workstations were ready and waiting for our employees. We also helped the "Polish Committee for Social Welfare" Foundation by donating all our furniture and household appliances/RTV, which were mostly in very good condition and fit for purpose.

NW: How do you deal with the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you already planning to return to the office? What will the logistics of such a return look like?

FS: Currently all our employees are working in shifts. The office is equipped with all necessary and additional personal protective equipment. We do not yet know when we will fully reopen the entire office space. We are currently looking for the best possible solution and are supplying the necessary sanitary equipment.

NW: What is the biggest challenge for you professionally?

FS: The biggest challenge for me as a team leader is to create a workplace where employees will feel as comfortable as possible and find space to achieve their goals. I think that nowadays it is very important to support employees in their development, inspire them, and motivate them to act. In such a competitive labor market, it is sometimes difficult to build a good relationship between the employee and the employer, and I am convinced that giving the proper support of people in achieving their professional goals will help build strong and committed teams within the company. The relationship should of course be a hierarchical partnership.

NW: Thanks very much for the interview.






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