Designing an Award-winning Office

Office Market

Creativity prevailed at this year’s Office of the Year Awards, organized for the ninth time by iroda.hu, part of ingatlan.com group. Original ideas abounded: among the winners was a company that recreated the atmosphere of foreign metropolises, another that created an office from a ruin pub and some that even managed to attract employees backfrom abroad.

For young jobseekers, the second most important consideration when it comes to picking their future workplace, right after salary, is the office environment. Since the ratio of Millennials and Generation Z employees is growing, companies are starting to pay more attention to the office element of the job offer. They simply cannot afford not to, or else they could easily lose a prospective candidate.  

Employers in Hungary are not spared by these global trends either; the labor shortage and a younger workforce are forcing them come up with original ideas. It may take more time and money to create something unique, but it usually pays off, and not only for the client.

For last year’s grand prize winner, communication agency ACG, the award brought more prestige and a cover page on design magazine Octogon. For the designer studio it worked with, less well known before this job, it brought publicity and a real entry to the market. It is the philosophy of ACG to support young talents, be them artists, fashion designers or architects.  

“This is a lot of responsibility but because of the commitment, creativity and the enthusiasm they had for this project, it was well worth it,” Nikolett Blaskó CEO of ACG says.   

One of the major challenges today is retaining employees, alongside attracting young talents, and money alone won’t suffice. But ACG’s new office has worked out in this sense; it even helped attract back some people who left the country earlier, the CEO says.  

Finding the perfect location and building, a tram-depot, took more than two years. Blaskó says the company did not want to settle earlier, but she acknowledges there are many companies that cannot wait that long. Less time can limit the design possibilities , which may result in concepts that won’t fit the given company entirely.  

“Prior to moving, architects spent days with us at our previous headquarters, studying the company structure and culture, how people interact, making us fill in surveys,” she recalls.  

Comfortable and Playful

The wait proved worth it. Besides providing a comfortable and playful space for workers, the new environment has an impact on how the agency is perceived. The location allows for some elements not generally seen in offices. Do you want to bring your pets in? No problem! Want to take a break in the skateboard park inside? You can.

The walls are also tall enough to allow the flying of drones, so don’t be surprised to see a few circling above your head. Plus they have a beer tap, a coke machine, big, bright, spacious rooms, functional and high-quality chairs to prevent backache; the list goes on. Aesthetics were important as well; the brand-building function of the design for a communication agency is a must. There are other positives to the new office.  

“Our colleagues used to spend a lot of time commuting; now clients come here to have meetings,” Blaskó says. Even passers-by come in sometimes to have a look.  

The year’s winning project also has something to do with traveling, though workers don’t actually need to leave the office to do that. Designed by architecture firm Stay in Hungary Kft. and interior design studio Mashroom Design, the U.S. software firm ION-Dealogic Planet’s new Budapest office won the grand prize this year.  

The company’s existing office, created by the same designers, also won the grand prize two years ago. Then the designers wanted to demonstrate the fast-paced development of the Dealogic, which became a listed company in 20 years, by designing a city with buses, library, market, etc., everything a busy city can offer.  

When Dealogic was bought up by ION and needed to expand its office space, it again commissioned the winning team. This time around, the designers drew from the nine cities in the world where the company has offices, from London to Mumbai to Sao Paolo.  

“We wanted to bring those nine cities to the Budapest office and see how we could incorporate them into the design,” designer Gábor Szegő told the Budapest Business Journal.  

When it comes to designing an office, Szegő says his team usually start off by having the client tell them what they want. Beyond some fixed elements such as the number of people the company wants to seat or the number of meeting rooms it wishes to have, they are given leeway to create a concept they think is in line with the client’s needs. In this case, workstations were separated with lounges, meeting areas were named after cities.  

In “Mumbai”, colorful wall paintings – street art done by Hungarian artists – green plants, pink neon lights were used to recreate a bustling city environment. “Beijing”, a separate meeting room, uses traditional patterns, modernist arches and clear, muted colors. The “Tokyo” meeting room has the local metro as its main element, while “London” has grey brick walls and dark front doors with golden door handles. Each maintains a district character while separating different functions of the office.

Category Winners 2018

•    Office of the Year Grand Prize: ION-Dealogic Planet

•    Office of the Year Design award: Neuschloss Palota, Redwood Holding Iroda

•    Office of the Year Small business award: Antavo

•    Office of the Year Large company award: BlackRock

•    Office of the Year Evolution award: ION-Dealogic Planet

•    Office of the Year Employer Branding:  Ericsson House

•    Co-working space of the Year: Egis Közösségi Munkatér

•    Co-working space of the Year Special award: Belvárosi Közösségi Tér

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