How does an office need to look to make it through the pandemic – and even more importantly: How will the office work after the pandemic?
The international office expert Bene presents “THE CORE by Bene”, which not only presents a concept on how to navigate these challenging times, but even demonstrates how it works in a test space open to the public in the heart of Frankfurt/Main. Bene is continuously refining the concept together with experts and customers.
”The way we at Bene see the office today and tomorrow obviously shifted under the influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” says Michael Fried, Executive Board Member for Sales, Marketing and Innovation at Bene.
Bene summarises the current observations, challenges and opportunities in relation to the future of the working world in three theses:
1. THE OBVIOUS: During the pandemic offices need to be remodelled and adjusted to meet necessary safety measures, so that people feel safe there and can be productive. Concepts need to be developed to fulfil these needs.
2. THE HIGHER PACE: Developments foreseen for the future of work, such as new leadership and digitisation has evolved and became more important at a significantly faster pace than anticipated before the pandemic. Aspects like collaboration, interaction and the purpose of work are becoming more visible now and will gain greater importance in the post-pandemic world of work.
3. THE BIG STRESS TEST: We are currently experiencing the biggest stress test for the concept of remote work and thereby the home office. Companies see that it basically works, but employees and leaders also see the challenges they face when not in the office. Companies and employees have had to rethink their views on these issues having gained new these insights. We miss the face-to-face exchange with our colleagues, and collaborating at a distance poses new challenges for companies and employees alike. Is focused work in the home office really possible for everybody?
Companies are learning that this new way of working could replace individual offices. This will inevitably have an impact on usage concepts and how we will design our office space in the future. Remote work and home offices will remain relevant as an integral part of the office landscape even after the pandemic. At the same time, the pivotal role of the office is being reinforced. More than ever, it is becoming the social centre.
The office is the physical core of an organisation, the heart of a company. Much like a port where people, concepts, ideas, and things come together. A space where spontaneous social interaction – the seed for many creative approaches, good ideas and relationships – does not need to be organised, a space for collaborative and agile work, where shared management and fluid leadership can evolve. A space that transports the spirit, the Corporate Identity of a company and the values that connect an organisation at its very centre, at its “core”.
This was reason enough for Bene to develop an office concept that meets these current needs.
“THE CORE by Bene” is a physical test space in the middle of Frankfurt’s city centre that can be experienced live and hands-on.
“We are the first manufacturer to not only present a concept on this trendsetting topic, but to create an actual physical test space,” says Patricia Möckesch, Product and Innovation Ambassador at Bene. Thus, in cooperation with experts, a unique office prototype for working during and after COVID-19 has been created. The working world must now prepare itself for the return of employees in the best possible way, while observing all necessary hygiene and protective measures.
Innovative protective mechanisms ensure safety throughout the premises. This starts at a terminal in the check-in area with a temperature scan and documentation of the visit for GDPR-compliant contact tracing. After temperature measurement, registration and contact-free hand disinfection, the system gives the green light to lead the visitor to a previously selected and cleaned workplace. The distances between the workstations are designed appropriately and they are also separated by mobile room dividers.
“People call the most important rule for the new kind of togetherness ‘social distancing’. For us at Bene, the office is a social place where dialogue and interaction are a fundamental part of life. So we prefer to say: we need physical distancing to stay social”, according to Michael Fried. “As we developed this concept we thus emphasised creating the right harmony between distance and proximity.”
With its mix of new technologies and a flexible spatial concept, “THE CORE by Bene” succeeds in creating an atmosphere where people feel good, can interact and stay safe. Focussing on “user experience”, Bene has developed and implemented this holistic and contemporary office landscape in collaboration with other experts such as Giulio Castegini from Drees & Sommer, Norman Kustos from neotares Consult and Iulia Patricia Manea from Holger Meyer Architektur. Because the world of work and the office environment are already in a state of flux, the concept will not lose its relevance, even after the pandemic. For many people, remote working, which really means working from anywhere, is already part of everyday professional life. This also means that classic working models such as the “nine-to-five” are losing their importance. Whether in a café, in the park or right at home – global networks and modern working conditions are changing the way we collaborate. This can be seen in everyday office life. “Meeting and communication zones are becoming increasingly important in the office,” says Michael Fried. “The office offers space for ideas and opportunities. It becomes a motor for innovation. The focus is more on teamwork and less on individual work.” Through the enormous wave of digitalisation it brought about, COVID-19 has accelerated this process even more and has significantly changed the requirements we place on a modern office.
With the ideal mix between open spatial structures and protected areas, “THE CORE by Bene” manages the balancing act between coronavirus-distance and teamwork so that people feel comfortable and can work creatively at the same time. To achieve this, we have designed six areas:
The lounge is for informal discussions in a relaxed atmosphere, the recreation area for relaxing and the touchdown workplace is for temporary work. But the main focus is on communication and cooperation: in addition to the team workspace and an informal meeting area, other areas enable spontaneous stand-up meetings and – in conjunction with the Idea Lab as a flexible workshop space that can also be rented – ensure an optimal exchange of ideas.
When we designed the space, we took care to ensure the greatest possible flexibility. "The office is a living organism that is constantly evolving and adapting to changing structures and the latest processes in a company or team,” explains Möckesch. “It is important to think about these plans and space concepts on a regular basis and make sure they are still serving their purpose.”
Modern office concepts are characterised by more communal areas that can be used flexibly and can be easily adapted to a wide range of requirements. "The importance of the office as a hub for information, corporate culture and social interaction is growing,” explains Michael Fried. "Offices must convey a sense of security, orientation and trust in order to continue to be inspiring places for people to meet and be creative in the future. The Bene team offers holistic solutions to achieve this, along with a range of tailor-made products.”