Article Index — 12
Annual Report 2019
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Green

Return on investment for clients

“Not many people are aware that innovation and technology in office buildings can boost employee productivity”, Simon Gheysens believes. But awareness is gaining momentum, thanks to the rise of certifications like the WELL Building Standard, a tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings.

“This standard clearly illustrates how technology and design can root out inefficiencies and boost productivity.” Simon Gheysens provides the example of a room’s temperature: when it’s exactly as it should be, people’s productivity is 4 percent higher. “Everyone knows that feeling of it being too hot or too cold in a room. Everyone thus knows where that 4 percent comes from”

Philosophy

Ghelamco’s MeetDistrict concept provides flexible office solutions that include the provision of additional services, in application of the philosophy underpinning the WELL certification. For example, the company has developed an online platform enabling users to adjust their environment as they see fit. 

“Employee productivity is an asset worth cherishing.”

Simon Gheysens Chief Technology and Project Design Officer

Air quality is another environmental factor with a huge impact on productivity. Air quality is usually bad in old, passive office buildings where ventilation is reduced to save energy. “Saving energy at the cost of people’s productivity is absurd. We will never do that”, says Simon Gheysens.

The right environment

Other factors, such as light, sound, and even smell, impact performance. “It’s often just little things. But people bothered by those little things will take longer to perform the same task, because their productivity goes down. That why we put significant effort into creating the right environment.”

Gheysens talks about how Ghelamco controls and improves all those environmental elements. “It takes a great deal of know-how, something you can only acquire by working at the scale we do.”

“Once you’ve experienced working in a MeetDistrict, you’ll never want to leave.”

Simon Gheysens Chief Technology and Project Design Officer

That also means that there’s often no point in renovating old buildings. “Some problems can’t be fixed. In many buildings you just can’t achieve those productivity gains.”

Rent

The impact on clients can be enormous. The WELL Building Standard indicates that a 1-percent gain in productivity corresponds to 50% of the rent for an office. “If we help our clients to achieve productivity gains, they can easily recoup their rental costs.”

Gheysens concludes that workplace environment is an important asset in the war for talent. “A few years back, there was a young woman working at MeetDistrict Ghent. But then she moved to Antwerp and found a job there. As soon as she heard MeetDistrict Berchem was opening its doors, she began investigating which companies were located there. Now, she’s back working in a MeetDistrict, this time in Berchem. Once you’ve experienced working in a MeetDistrict, you’ll never want to leave.”

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