Gerhard Niesslein: Working in the future today: in New Work City

Picture your current workplace. And now imagine how you would design your working environment if you were allowed to change it. And? What does your workplace of the future look like? What fundamental changes to the working environment need to be taken into account when speaking of the workplace of the future? In Frankfurt, this future can already be seen today. New Work City is the name of the innovative concept of THE SQUAIRE, at
660 metres long and 65 metres wide the largest office building in Europe. Here, in the heart of Europe, a completely new concept for working and living under one roof is being created, with 140,000 square metres of floor space. The dimensions are so huge that the building even has its own postcode, 60600, meaning that it really can be spoken of as a new district.

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The idea for New Work City is based on the logical realisation that the staff are the most important asset a company has. For this reason, everything in New Work City revolves around the greatest asset in today’s knowledge and service society, people. Because people are the factor for success in any company. Re­­gard­­less of whether it’s creative ideas, intensive networking or efficient processes, people play the decisive role everywhere. The success of a company therefore depends on how well people can work in their environment and how comfortable they feel. This thought was the starting point for all planning for New Work City.

The New Work City concept: people, their networks and the time factor. The key factors of people, networks and time were defined for New Work City based on the latest research, including by the American future researcher Professor Richard Florida (University of Toronto). The positive effects on the staff and company – direct communication with networking options, the wellbeing and satisfaction of the staff, increases in efficiency and positive image effects – are drawn from this.

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Due to the requirements of today’s knowl­­­edge-based society, the exchange of information and the quality of personal contacts are particularly important for companies. Personal communication between staff is crucial for the success of a company, as confirmed by Professor Tom Allen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). According to an MIT study, 80 per cent of all innovative ideas are born in personal conversations. This also applies to successful business deals. 80 per cent of all impor­tant decisions are made face-to-face. For this reason, one of the core functions of the New Work City is to promote personal communication and successful networking as well as possible. This kind of personal communication is especially encouraged by the atria, which are designed as living space, with a range of themes. Their lounge areas make them ideal meeting places, while numerous cafés and restaurants offer attractive options for business dinners and the business lounge can be used as an exclusive business card. The business and conference centre provides a further platform for communication.

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An ideal working environment creates an ideal connection between professional and private life. According to an extensive survey carried out by the American consultancy firm Gensler, 90 per cent of American office staff are convinced that the working environment has a crucial effect on their level of satisfaction, and thus on their motivation and productivity for the company in question. This is why New Work City does everything possible to design a positive working environment. This includes optimising the connection between professional and private life.

The concept includes retail outlets, which help people to satisfy their daily needs. This is ideal when you get stuck in the office and the “normal” shops are already shut. There is a wide range of services, in­­­­clud­­ing dry cleaners, hairdressers, clothes shops and a jeweller, as well as a super­­market which is almost always open. The new working environment also includes a day nursery. To promote a healthy lifestyle, a medical centre and fitness centre are provided. The in-house, hotel-standard concierge service provides particular support, always ready to run errands or offer other services. Wellness services, as well as the wide range of food and the two Hilton hotels, allow you to relax. The aim of these services and relaxation options is not just to reduce stress and recharge the batteries for the next day’s work. More than anything, it is about gaining time and thus creating more space for the important things, both at work and at home. Successfully managing the balance be­­tween work and home life day-to-day makes people feel good and is still noticeable long after they get home from the office. All these measures contribute to their satisfaction and their sense of connection to the company. This makes it significantly easier to attract new workers, since the New Work City makes any em­­ployer based here much more attractive. Bearing in mind the ever-increasing competition for the top people, this ad­­vantage is not to be underestimated.
Further studies from Gensler have un­­earthed astonishing results. By creating modern working environments, the most powerful companies in the world have achieved an increase in performance of 38 per cent. In an analysis of potential, the Gensler consultants found a noticeable increase in income at US companies when staff are provided with a modern working environment with attractive social aspects. In addition, figures from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office show that satisfied staff are off sick less often than their dissatisfied colleagues. Since staffing costs amount to around 76 per cent of all company expenditure in the German economy, according to the Federal Statistical Office, while leasing costs, for example, make up only eight per cent, there is room for noticeable increases in efficiency here.

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Many famous companies have already been convinced by the advantages of the New Work City. The consultancy firm KPMG, for example, is relocating its Euro­­pean headquarters here from London. Most of the floor space has already been leased, and interest in the building is high. It’s not just nice to work in your own city, with the airport on the doorstep, high-speed trains in the under­­ground garage and main motorways just around the corner – it also saves time and money. The key to success, however, is the consistent focus on the working factors or people, time and networks. This is the only way to achieve above-average company success in the long term.

Niesslein-KopieThe author obtained his doc­­­torate (Dr. jur.) at the University of Vienna in 1978. Born in the Austrian state of Styria, he was the chair of the executive board of DeTe Immobilien GmbH, which belongs to Deutsche Telekom AG, from 1999 to 2008. He has been executive board spokes­­man of IVG Immobilien AG since 2008.