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Spanish workplace design: why has everything changed?

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"As a result the growth of co-working has become a key trend – as it has over much of Europe – but there has been a particular Hispanic twist with innovative approaches to space. This has informed design of co-working space but also more conventional clients who are starting to look at space in a new way, to optimise their occupancy. 

Clients have been very keen to advise on space – to introduce innovation, technology and smarter ways of working. 

  • Innovation – the new EY offices in Madrid are founded on the activity-based model, with a range of different space for working and socialising. Again there is a strong emphasis on ideation and bringing the workforce together while offering them choice of location and work mode. 

  • A new way of doing business has fed through to a new form of designing office space – there is very much a strategy founded on “the way we work will define where we need to work.”  Firms are no longer concerned with location for location’s sake – this is all about brave choices and making the best decision for the firm, business strategy and not being dictated to by lease lengths and available space. 

  • This fresh approach is, in part, being driven by a new manifesto from workers for whom salary and job status are no longer the key elements for staff attraction and retention.  Workers in Madrid now look at the location of the company they want to work at, with the social benefits and work/life balance it offers them as a key basis for decision-making. 

  • Businesses are encouraging new ways of working – both inside the office and via teleworking – but it is all about empowering workers and giving them more confidence.

How is this affecting workplace design?

  • The war for talent is a #1 priority for nearly all businesses in Spain so office design and the creation of space is viewed is key to creating a competitive strength. 

  • From the worker’s perspective, they are bringing a new emphasis on well-being, for example spaces and time for yoga and meditation or the ease of access to gyms or outdoor space.

  • Collaboration and community-based spaces – there is so much emphasis on network building, personal development through relationship building. So much of this is generated via design and there is a real confidence to occupiers and operators of flexible space in trying to inspire collaboration.  For example, an old cinema club in downtown Madrid has been turned into a mixed-used culture hub, with a strong emphasis on idea generation and mixing up the user base. 

  • Greater efficiency through the use of better materials that address an environmentally-aware approach, space optimization with less consumption and more interaction with teams and clients.

  • Closely monitoring effectiveness, and using data to assess the right use of spaces (to spend time with people and make salaries more productive, not loss productive, finding space to allow workers to concentrate and to do their jobs efficiently)."

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