Case study

ofi exchanges factory environment for innovative city office

February 23, 2024


For decades, Ofi operated from their office and factory buildings in the Zaanstreek. The B2B supplier of cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts and spices is now exchanging this traditional working environment for an industrial hotspot in Amsterdam. Here, they are moving into a brand new office with over two hundred employees, fully tailored to a modern, hybrid work strategy. Ofi approached CBRE for comprehensive strategic advice: from workplace concept, design and construction to project, change and cost management.

The image shows a combination of a meeting room and an open work space. In the center of the room is a long, rectangular table with a dark gray or black tabletop. The table is equipped with built-in power supplies and there are chairs around it with a terracotta or rust brown color and black bases. At the back of the room is a large wooden panel with a world map. There are also a white cabinet, a presentation board and a ping-pong table in the space. Lighting comes from built-in ceiling lights, and there is a large plant to the left. The atmosphere is sleek, functional and inviting.
A furnished indoor space that functions as a café or informal workspace. The space has an industrial feel with exposed pipes on the ceiling. There are round tables, chairs, a bar with stools and plants that create a fresh atmosphere. The lighting is warm and the floor appears to be made of light wood. The overall atmosphere is modern, inviting and functional, focused on social interaction and collaboration. The floor along the bar extends to the back of the picture and heads toward the entrance to a large meeting room.
A stylishly decorated interior resembling a café or an open workspace in an office building. The space has an industrial feel with a wooden bar, bar stools, cabinetry and exposed pipes on the ceiling. The aesthetic is minimalist and modern, with natural and industrial elements creating a calm and inviting environment.
Ee furnished office space or common area with an open and airy design. The ceiling has exposed pipes and ventilation systems, and there is plenty of artificial lighting that makes the space bright. The space includes a sitting area with a purple sofa, a wooden shelf with plants, a large gold column, a work table with chairs, a kitchen or bar area, and a large screen on the back wall. The floor is covered with light gray carpet tiles. The overall atmosphere is inviting, functional and stylish, with a mix of natural and modern elements.
A modern-looking interior of an office. It has an industrial feel with exposed ductwork and ventilation systems on the ceiling. The ceiling is unfinished, revealing structural elements such as beams and the underside of the floor above.  In the center of the picture is a wooden counter containing a coffee machine, cups and other items you would expect to find in a coffee corner or small kitchen. Behind the counter is a large, circular purple logo with white lettering. Next to the logo is a large monitor that emits purple light, adding to the modern atmosphere.  There are different types of furniture in the space, including white tables with matching chairs and tall bar stools near a countertop. The floor appears to be polished concrete, which suits the industrial style of the interior.  There are two people in the space. One person is sitting at a table working on a laptop, while the other person is standing and moving around.  The color palette of the room is quite neutral with lots of wood tones, white and gray tones, but the purple accent adds a lively touch. The lighting is modern, with several spotlights and linear lights built into the ceiling.  All in all, the image gives an impression of a stylish, modern workspace designed for both functionality and aesthetics.
An office or lobby space with vibrant and ecologically inspired décor. The space has an open and inviting atmosphere, with various seating options and decorative elements that suggest a natural theme. The interior is designed with sustainability and collaboration in mind, combining natural elements with modern amenities to create an inspiring environment.
A laboratory or research room seen from a corridor. The laboratory is visible through a large glass wall that separates the room from the corridor from which the photograph was taken. Three people can be seen in the laboratory wearing white lab coats and engaged in various tasks. The room is professional, hygienic and well-equipped with laboratory equipment and storage space.
A piece of furniture in a room with a light background. The furniture has a soft shade of pink or salmon and consists of interconnected rectangular compartments. In one of the open compartments, glass test tubes are visible, filled with different contents in varying colors from light to dark brown. The background is neutral and light, with no distracting elements. The whole creates a stylized and clean aesthetic.
An interior space that serves as a café or lounge. The color scheme is warm and inviting with neutral tones and accents of vibrant colors.  At the center of the image is a long counter with an eye-catching neon sign
A meeting room with an oval wooden table in the center. Twelve chairs are placed around the table, three of which are occupied by people. The chairs have beige upholstery and black wheels and armrests. On one side of the table are two persons looking at a laptop; one of them is operating the laptop. On the other side of the table, a person stands by a large wall-mounted whiteboard.  Behind the table is a wall with a large window oriented vertically, overlooking a multi-story building outside. The window is covered with semi-transparent, vertical blinds. The wall on the side of the window is covered with a light fabric or wallpaper and has a built-in, low storage closet.  A large, flat screen is mounted on the wall opposite the window. The room is lit by three pendant lights with a white, wavy shade hanging above the table. The overall color scheme of the room is neutral with light tones such as beige, white and gray. The floor has a light gray color.  The overall atmosphere is professional and clean, with a design that seems focused on functionality and comfort. The design of the space suggests that it is intended for business meetings or conferences.

From Zaan to Mokum

The reason for the move? "A number of things were going on," says Marjan Beijer-de Looze, Head of HR EMENA at ofi. "We had been in Koog aan de Zaan for decades. In other words: old building, not exactly sustainable. Moreover, we weren't just in Koog, we also had a number of teams in Rotterdam and Wormer; we wanted to bring our products and departments closer together. We had also long wanted to build a customer solutions center (CSC), where we can come up with new product applications together with our customers. We are now bringing all of this together under one roof."

The Joan

"But that wasn't so easy, because we had quite a few requirements. For the office space, but certainly for the CSC," Marjan continues. That's why ofi turned to CBRE, for technical expertise and data-driven advice. "They found us a beautiful space in The Joan in Amsterdam: a modern and sustainable office building near the Amstel junction. Easily accessible, fully equipped. And therefore much more interesting for young talent!"

Hybrid work strategy

Here, Ofi houses about two hundred employees. "Of course we want people to come to the office as much as possible, because it's a beautiful building," Marjan says. "At the same time, the office is increasingly becoming a place for collaboration and meeting, and you really don't have to get in the car or train every day; working from home is also possible.

"With the help of CBRE, we asked employees: how often are you behind a computer, how often do you make phone calls and how often are you in meetings? In other words: what do you really need on the days when you do come to the office? Through surveys and data analyses, we figured this out. Then, together with CBRE, we came up with a modern, hybrid workplace concept - fully tailored to the needs of our teams."

An office interior with an emphasis on biophilic design elements, which aim to incorporate aspects of nature into the built environment to improve well-being and productivity.  The right side of the image shows a vertical garden wall filled with various green plants that bring a natural element to the space. This living wall is lush and adds a vibrant green touch to the office.  On the left side is a raised wooden table with a curved design. The table has a light wood finish and is complemented by tall stools with black seats and metal legs that provide a seating area for employees. Three pendant lights with a modern design hang from the ceiling above the table.  In the foreground is a motion blur of a person walking by. The faded figure shows that the office is in use and that this is a snapshot of daily life in this work environment.  The lighting in the office is bright and evenly distributed, with additional recessed ceiling lights visible across the room, making the entire space well lit.  Overall, the image shows a modern, eco-friendly office space designed for functionality, comfort and promoting a connection to nature.
An office interior with two rows of white lockers reaching almost to the ceiling on the left side of the photo. Each locker appears to have a lock and numbering or labeling. Atop the lockers are green plants at intervals that add some natural elements to the space.  The floor is covered with carpet that is mostly beige with a pattern of dark and light stripes. In the center of the space are gray office partitions that demarcate workstations. Black office chairs are visible and several different adjustable desks.  On the right side of the image, there are large windows that let in natural light and offer views of what looks like an urban environment.  There are several people in the image. In the distance, in the center of the picture, two persons are walking, talking or cooperating with each other as they move through the space. They cannot be clearly identified because they are not the focal point of the photo.  The overall atmosphere of the office is neat and organized with a neutral color palette, and the presence of plants suggests an attempt to promote well-being and productivity. The design seems focused on functionality and collaboration.
An office environment with three workstations, each with tall, light brown wood partitions for privacy. The workstations have dark red upholstered sofas, matching stools and light wood desks. Cylindrical white pendant lights hang above the desks, and the ceiling has recessed lighting. There is also a large plant bed between the workstations. The floor is covered with light gray carpet and the office has a calm and neutral color scheme. The design focuses on comfort and well-being in the workplace.
An office interior with a conference table, chairs with white tub seats and black legs, a gray upholstered chair, a wooden wall with decorative objects and a person walking along the wall into a room. On the wall is an illustration of a landscape with purple flowers and a clear sky. Lighting in the space comes from recessed spotlights. The Image has a professional and contemporary atmosphere with attention to comfort and aesthetics.
An office or meeting room. The room has a calm color scheme with mostly neutral tones such as white, gray and black. On one side are half-blinded windows that let in natural light.  At the center of the image is a desk with a large, widescreen computer monitor facing the viewer. The screen is off. Behind the screen is a small, plant in a white pot, adding a bit of color and life to the room.  On the right side of the desk is a black office chair with an ergonomic design. The chair has a high back and armrests, and is on wheels for easy movement. There is another identical chair on the other side of the desk.  On the wall outside the room is a framed artwork with vibrant colors. And the floor is covered with carpet in a light shade of gray that goes well with the overall color scheme of the room. The door to the room is open, allowing us to look inside.  The overall atmosphere of the picture is professional, organized and designed for productivity. The minimalist design and lack of clutter suggest that this is a place for focus and work.
An office space with a large white conference table, chairs all around, a monitor on the wall, and a glass wall with green privacy film. Artwork with a leaf pattern hangs and the floor is gray carpet. Lighting comes from built-in ceiling lights. The whole place exudes a neat and professional atmosphere, ideal for meetings or work.  On the left side of the table is a black office chair with an ergonomic design. The chair has a high back and armrests, and is on wheels for easy movement. There are two more chair head side of the desk.
An office interior with a seating area on the left with sofas and rectangular tables. On the right side are large windows overlooking the city and planters with green plants. The atmosphere is calm and efficient, with a combination of modern and natural elements that create a pleasant working environment.
a modern office interior with multiple workstations, desks, partition panels for privacy, ceiling lights, a closet wall, and decorative elements such as plants. The atmosphere is professional and organized, with attention to ergonomics and functionality.
An office or commercial space with a minimalist and clean design. At the center of the picture is a tall bar or kitchen table with a light wood top and a stylish dark metal base. At the table are four tall bar stools with terracotta-colored upholstery and black metal legs, which match well with the table.  Above the table hang two large, black pendant lights with a simple, round design that provide directional lighting for the table. Behind the table is a half-height wall where there are decorative elements, such as a large, lush green plant in a pot and what looks like a framed picture.  The floor is covered with a light gray floor that exudes tranquility and adds to the neat look of the room. On the left side of the image is a glass wall that separates the space from another room or hallway, letting in light and giving the space an open feel.  There is movement captured in the image; a person in orange clothing walks along the glass wall, creating a dynamic element in the otherwise quiet and orderly interior.  The overall atmosphere of the image is professional, modern and inviting, with attention to design and comfort. The use of natural materials and plants adds warmth to the otherwise cool and business-like colors.
A meeting room with a large rectangular conference table, chairs with light green upholstery, a television screen on the wall, artwork of a landscape, light walls and a light gray carpeted floor. The room has a neutral color palette and an open feel due to the glass walls. Lighting consists of built-in ceiling spotlights. The room looks neat and professional.

Breeding ground for innovation

The showpiece of the new office? "The CSC, without a doubt! Of course, we come from a factory environment. With such a move, there is a risk that you lose sight of your product. Thanks to this innovation center, we keep sight of what we do and what we are good at: producing high-quality and sustainable food ingredients."

Grand and modern, not cold

The building was there, the interior followed. "Somehow, CBRE managed to give each department a cozy and homely feeling. This is due to the furniture, floor, color use and lots of greenery. The building radiates the warmth that we as an organization also want to radiate. That's what makes people like to come there."

Getting used to it

After about seventy years in the Zaanstreek, the move to 'the big city' is quite a big one. "We paid a lot of attention to this. Our employees were so used to the old place, and worried about the bustle, traffic jams, change. You know what you have, not what you get. Fortunately, CBRE guided us well - they know these kinds of trajectories and the concerns that employees run into. From the start, they said: communication is the most important thing. Informing, answering questions, reassuring."

On the advice of CBRE, ofi appointed ambassadors within the company: employees who were enthusiastic about the move and could convey that to the departments. "Subsequently, we continuously engaged in conversations with employees and managers. We listened to them and took their concerns seriously. That already took away a lot of them."

Soft landing

That paid off, because now that we have moved, I only hear positive stories. From day one, everyone was able to work here comfortably, that's really an achievement. This smooth transition has been made possible in part by CBRE's comprehensive and expert services. What am I proud of? That our employees - despite the change and the traffic - are happy with their new workplace.

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