Booking.com workplace concept prioritises employees
November 21, 2023
The new Booking.com campus has pride of place on the Oosterdokskade. The schedule was tight, and the budget equally so, but the result was well worth all of it. One of the major challenges in the project was to incorporate Booking.com’s identity, ambitions and changing needs into the workplace concept. With the aim of implementing a modern, hybrid way of working, the company joined forces with CBRE Workplace Strategies.
Under one roof
‘It all started with the construction of our new campus,’ says Marc van den Helder, Program Manager Real Estate & Workspace Services at Booking.com. ‘Our plan was to relocate from multiple offices throughout Amsterdam to a single site. That naturally raised the question of how to organise things, especially given the criticism we’d received about our previous ‘one size fits all’ solution with fixed workplaces. This sometimes led to irritation, with complaints from various quarters about how uncomfortable it was to work there. All the more reason to carefully consider the workplace concept on the new campus. And we asked CBRE Workplace Strategies to help us with that.’
From data to concept
‘Our employees are always our top priority. We want to keep them with us, and help them to excel. For that reason, we focus on the three pillars of health, happiness and productivity. On the basis of these, we carried out surveys, interviews and real-life experiments. After combing through the data, we sent our analysis to CBRE, who then turned out a fantastic concept for the campus. We started work in great spirits... and then came the pandemic.’
‘Prior to 2020, everyone at Booking.com came to the office every day and had their own desk. However, during the coronavirus outbreak, we realised that working from home was here to stay. So our new question was: what do employees actually need for hybrid working? We went back to CBRE Workplace Strategies and said: “We’ve noticed a shift. Is the original concept still relevant?” Based on that question, they started to revise and refine the concept. However, construction had already started, so this added a lot of pressure. Rapid, flexible and decisive collaboration was essential, both during the concept development and afterwards. CBRE ensured that our requirements remained intact throughout the design process, and were not dispensed with for the sake of creative freedom.’
A new way of working
Hybrid working brings up different workplace needs. ‘More call cells, focus spots and meeting places, for example – these were in great demand. There were very high technical requirements too: the acoustics, ventilation, lighting and connection all had to be top quality. In addition, we made a clear distinction between the concentration and collaboration zones, to reduce any likelihood of disturbance.
‘Employees also told us that they wanted an ‘anchor point’ in the office – a fixed spot where they could meet up with their fellow team members. After all, it’s a huge building: with around 3,200 workplaces spread over 65,000 square metres, you definitely need to feel connected somehow, both with the company and with your department. That’s why CBRE introduced the idea of team bases, which are hubs where you can encounter your direct colleagues. And if you need a little more quiet, then a short walk will bring you to a quieter area. This enables all of the different types of workplace to merge seamlessly and organically with each other.’
Everything for the employees
‘As you’ve noticed, at Booking.com we do everything we can for our employees. We want everyone on our campus to feel good, no matter who they are or where they come from. That’s why we’ve used data, again, to focus so intensively on meeting diverse needs, also with respect to reachability and accessibility.’
‘Some employees use wheelchairs, for example, or are sensitive to bright light or loud noises. How do you deal with that in your workplace concept? The greenery provides a good example. It’s extremely important for health, happiness and productivity. However, the 11,000 plants on campus need grow lights, and light-sensitive people cannot tolerate these so well. Our solution is to have the lighting only come on in the evening: it’s a small thing we can do to accommodate the needs of employees within the workplace concept. CBRE Workplace Strategies was an excellent partner for us in making that move. Because we had frequent, intensive contact with each other, the cooperation proceeded smoothly. And most importantly, they continually incorporated the wishes, needs and concerns of our employees in their concepts and ideas.’
Project detailsClient: Booking.com
Lead Interior Architect: HofmanDujardin
Project management: CBRE
Workplace Consultant: CBRE
Area designers: CBRE Design Collective, HofmanDujardin, i29, Linehouse Design, Studio Modijefsky, UNStudio
Layer designers: MOSS, Mijksenaar, Powerplant, Scholten & Baijings, Studio Rublek
Photography: Stijn Poelstra, Matthijs van Roon
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