Rate my office.Part:3 mBank's office in Łódź

Aleksander Szybilski from Cushman & Wakefield visits offices across Poland in search for an answer on how to create a friendly and competitive workplace in an office project.

2019-08-21 09:56:48

mBank Stop is located in downtown Łódź, within a walking a distance from Łódź Fabryczna railway station, the EC1 complex and close to Piotrkowska Street. An aerial view of the building suggests large floorplates of more than 4,000 sq m which easily accommodate teams working closely together on the same floor and help improve information sharing.

ABOUT THE OFFICE:

  • Company: mBank
  • Architects: InDesign, Zbigniew Kostrzewa and Anna Pyłka
  • City: Łódź
  • Sector: financial
  • Office opened: 2017
  • Office space: 24,000 sq m
  • Headcount: 2,500
  • Home office: yes
  • Desk sharing: no
  • Photos: Szymon Polański and Aleksander Szybilski

 

RATE MY OFFICE:

A survey was carried out among mBank employees to evaluate factors impacting on the quality of their work environment and their importance according to office users. The weighted average for all ratings was 3.9, which demonstrates that most employees have positive opinions about their new work environment. Survey findings can be presented to representatives of individual departments during dedicated workshops to develop ways of improving employee perceptions of areas which were important to employees but received poor ratings such as acoustics, air quality and greenery.

  RATED BY EMPLOYEES HOW IMPORTANT TO EMPLOYEES
DESIGN 4.52/5 3.97/5
AIR QUALITY 3.48/5 4.8/5
LIGHT QUALITY 3.7/5 4.77/5
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY 3.86/5 4.06/5
GREENERY 2.5/5 4.06/5
ACOUSTICS 3.27/5 4.48/5
TECHNOLOGY 4.38/5 4.58/5
WI-FI 4.47/5 4.54/5
WORKSTATION 4.09/5 4.85/5
MEETING PLACES 4.31/5 4.40/5
PLACES FOR SOCIALIZING 4.22/5 4.14/5

RATINGS: 1 – Poor, 2 – Fair 3 – Average, 4 – Good, 5 – Excellent

HOW IMPORTANT TO EMPLOYEES?

1 – Completely unimportant, 2 – Rather unimportant, 3 – Hard to say, 4 – Important, 5 – Very important

CASE STUDY:

The challenge of mBank:

Analyses and strategy development for mBank’s Stop, the bank’s new head office in Łódź, began in 2013. The project was launched early, i.e. four years before the actual relocation, due to the high number of employees and the complexity of the process to consolidate the bank’s six offices. As the bank continued opening new locations over the years to accommodate its operational growth, it had to take on more staff and lease more office space available on the market.

Various building and interior fit-out standards, types of furniture and IT equipment certainly presented a challenge. These differences caught the attention of the bank’s employees who moved from office to office and affected their morale. 

In addition to the need to create a uniform office fit-out standard, attention was also paid to features for which the bank was known for among its customers: innovation and mobile technology development.

The key driver behind the final choice of the new location was the intense cooperation between the bank’s head offices in Warsaw and Łódź which requires its employees to frequently travel between the two cities. The proximity of a modern railway station Łódź Fabryczna was taken special note of during the search for a building.

In addition to its technical specification, fit-out and location, the building was to be a magnet for top talents who would be proud to say that they work in one of the most modern offices in Poland. Let us find out how the new office was built.

The bicycle parking facility supports employees who ever more often opt for this means of transport on account of its positive effect on health, wellbeing and the natural environment. mBank is the only tenant in the building who - if needed - can easily extend the bicycle facility by converting traditional car parking spaces into bicycle parking spaces.

PROJECT PREPARATIONS:

The success of the best project is underpinned by people and their engagement in the decision-making process impacting not only on the appearance of an office, but first and foremost on the company’s future and reputation. Communication with the bank’s board of directors was key at the earliest stage of the project. They were provided with an overview of the bank’s existing lease portfolio in Łódź, possible scenarios of vacating its premises, the bank’s requirements confirming the need to consolidate, a new location strategy, investment requirements and many other factors. Once additional information had been gathered, strategic decisions made and priorities set, it was possible to move on from the planning to implementation stage.

One of the early initiatives heralding a change for employees was the creation of a ‘new office pilot’ as a promise of a new quality. It consisted in alteration of one floor of the Centrum Biznesu building, where mBank leased office space. The new space provided a much larger variety of premises, furniture and technologies. New rules for the use of amenities were also put in place. In this new experimental environment, several teams had an opportunity to test and comment on the new setting and to share their experiences with colleagues from other teams. Thanks to the early start of the project, mBank had time to draw conclusions, educate users and improve previous assumptions.

Change ambassadors, or mBank’s employees representing individual departments, were engaged in the decision-making process to choose a building. Of more than 2,000 employees, approximately 80 people were selected to play an active role in designing the new office space, discussing solutions and guaranteeing seamless communication between the employees and the project team.

The change ambassadors were also engaged in the choice of furniture and themes for each floor, the choice of fit-out for games rooms and many other tasks. When a binding concept of an interior fit-out was being developed, a 3D presentation of a typical floorplate was prepared to offer a virtual tour of the office. Everyone had an opportunity to view the new office with VR goggles or on a large screen.

The reception desk on the ground floor features natural colours with wooden elements and greenery mounted on the walls. Asymmetrically arranged seating places lend dynamism to this zone.  

THE RESULTS:

A modern glass six-floor building in the New Centre of Łódź, located in the immediate vicinity of Łódź Fabryczna railway station, was chosen for the company’s new head office. The project was voted by the employees to be named mBank Stop. In line with the latest trends, the building supports cycling with the largest parking facility in Łódź for 188 bicycles. The building also features locker rooms and showers for cyclists.

The office building boasts an impressive, voluminous and spacious ground floor space housing the main reception desk, accessible from street level. The entrance area is dominated by warm, natural colours, wooden elements and lots of greenery on the walls. A large, modern video wall displaying the latest news about the company was installed in an otherwise cosy interior. A spacious canteen and a coffee zone were also arranged on the ground floor for users’ comfort. There was a lot of enthusiasm about the choice of the coffee zone operator, a long-standing client of mBank, who had opened its first coffee point in one of the bank’s previous locations. It is its great passion for coffee, first-rate customer service and willingness to extend its operations that helped the small-scale operator beat much larger competitors in an employee vote.

Opening speed gates with NFC-enabled smartphones and an mBank app was the first surprise upon entrance to the office zone. President Stypułkowski had once pointed out that “Statistically speaking, a man apparently realises that he’s lost a wallet after 20 minutes, and a phone after a few”. Attachment to technology and a technology-enabled work environment has led to the adoption of a management system for conference rooms – employees can book them via an app or check room availability by scanning a QR code on the plates mounted by each entrance. As employees would frequently book rooms “just in case” or fail to cancel meetings, the app team added a new function requiring them to confirm bookings up to 15 minutes before the start of a meeting. If no confirmation is received, the meeting is cancelled and the conference room reappears as vacant in the booking system. As it is mBank’s own product, it is being continuously developed with new functions added such as ordering beverages to the rooms within the conference centre in the future.

Other technological solutions ensuring employees full mobility include access to fast Wi-Fi throughout the office and top-class videoconferencing equipment.

All floors, except for the conference floor, have the same functional layout of the office zone. In accordance with good architectural practice, the workstations and project tables are located close to the glass elevation to provide maximum daylight. Adjustable desks that help adjust the height of desk tops and offer a choice of standing positions will also benefit employees. The conference rooms, project rooms, informal work and meeting places are located closer to the core of the building. Each floor also features a large kitchen and coffee points. The building offers diverse spaces and activity-based working options. Each floor has a different theme: nature, films, colours, cities and modern technologies.

One floor is unique in that it provides a multiple-occupancy room for employees with children which is a great amenity for parents. The room has fully-equipped workstations and a large arsenal of toys for kids.

The project has proved hugely successful and attracted strong interest among other banks inspired by the solutions mBank put in place in Łódź. A notable, modern-day measure of success confirming the fulfilment of users’ expectations was the publication of many photos on social media showing proud employees with the new office interior in the background.

 

THE EXPERT’S ADVICE:

1) Due to the long office lease, I would advise carrying out Utilisation Studies regularly or at least once a year in order to identify solutions that are less popular with the employees, types of work performed by various teams and how individual rooms and furniture items are used. But first and foremost, such a study will reveal areas for improvement when mBank begins to grow out of the current location.  

2) I would suggest bringing more greenery into the office. Survey respondents have indicated that greenery is not the most important aspect to them, but our experience shows that plants in an office also improve the acoustics, air quality and employee efficiency.

3) I would turn the area near the café on the ground floor into a less formal space providing a greater variety of furniture and a more work-friendly environment for use by both the employees and students of the nearby universities.

4) To facilitate mail and document distribution within the company I would add letter holes to lockers and tags for business cards helping to identify locker owners.

 

HOW TO APPLY FOR RATE MY OFFICE:

If you would like us to provide you with an unbiased assessment of your office and ways of improving the work environment in your location, please send us an email at: aleksander.szybilski@cushwake.com

 

PHOTOS:

A large video wall showing the latest news about mBank is located near the café. It looks very modern and is bound to make an impression on job candidates.

 

The canteen combines the industrial style with an open ceiling and visible installations and the homey style with wooden furniture and a brick wall with added greenery. Various items are skilfully incorporated to create a cosy place – not only does it serve tasty meals, but it is also nice to look at and helps employees engage in less formal conversations.

 

The conference rooms reflect the themes on each floor. Some feature additional elements such as wall coverings and finishes selected in the course of the architect’s consultations with the employees.

 

In contrast to previous offices, mobile drawer units were replaced by lockers in which employees store their personal belongings. Each locker has an individual number and a combination lock.

The photo below shows the plate by the entrance to a conference room which in addition to its name and a QR code to scan to book the room also states the room’s seating capacity and equipment: a monitor, a writing board and videoconferencing equipment.

The room originally intended for meditation and relaxation has become a popular place for silent work.

The informal meeting places are equipped with screens on which to display presentations. The open space helps engage people from other teams in discussions.

See more photos: 

GALERIA

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