- Office Environments Based On Innovation, Quality and Sustainability
“Nowadays companies like Apple and Google inspire major changes on the workfloor,” Veer explains. “Technical innovations define our way of working. Our innovations translate this into practice, especially in terms of their functionality. But this is also apparent in the services we offer to our customers, such as an integrated concept.”
According to Veer, the demand for turnkey office installations arose when companies replaced domestic services managers with facility managers. “Instead of buying tables and chairs, they instead focused on the total cost of ownership. Discounts started to be offered for a single fit out, so it was cheaper than buying separate elements.
We started making studies of interiors and employing our own interior designers in order to be able to offer total concepts. We were quite successful in our endeavor but I think that now we have come to the point where we really take the burden of our customers’ shoulders. We are diving deeper into the organisation and infrastructure of our customers’ premises.”
In recent years, Ahrend has increasingly delivered related services as well as its products for the office environment. “You used to pay for what you thought a product was worth,” Veer explains. “Now we increasingly deliver services. Customers can now lease workspaces from us. Tenders increasingly include the question how much a design will cost per square metre per month. And that with a certain service level. We also examine the possibilities for flexible occupation and can provide management reports for this. How many people are at work at any particular time? Can the spaces be adapted easily? If you know, for example, that there are fewer people in the office on Fridays, you could consider closing a floor and saving on the cost of lighting, air conditioning, heating and cleaning. The return on investment for this practice is perhaps twelve months and that makes it interesting for many companies.”
Veer expects all-in services to be quite popular in the near future. “We’re working towards sale and leaseback agreements for office installations. In a full-service contract, Ahrend is responsible for updates and upgrades of office furniture, and we then put it all back. We try to add functions and functionalities. We undertake preventive maintenance, for example by replacing the seats of office chairs in good time. And we can also take care of inventory management. All costs are accounted for in the lease contract. A lot of organisations have shown an interest in this structure.”
Tools to support office workers regularly appear on the market. “But productivity barely rises because of these gadgets,” Veer believes. “Where progress can be made is in the autonomy of the individual employee. We all know about sit/stand desks. But there are a lot of other issues, such as light, temperature and acoustics. These factors are usually settled by the largest common denominator, in other words, an average of the preferences of employees. We believe that our Comfort Workstation is a step forward. We develop smart solutions in our InnovationLAB that enhance personal comfort. Ingenious systems allow us to create the optimal personal environment. Acoustics, privacy, temperature and the colour and strength of the lighting are tailored to the individual. For this, Ahrend is recognised around the world, considered very advanced. Various universities have conducted research into personal comfort and came to the conclusion that this increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.”
Modern, but not trendy
Closed-loop thinking has a long tradition at Ahrend. Sustainability has an important place in the company philosophy. “For us, sustainability and quality are closely intertwined,” Veer stresses. “Firstly, our designs are timeless and will last for decades. Our motto is “modern but not trendy”. Look at Friso Kramer’s designs, like the Mehes table. This design dates back to the 1980s and is still up to date. Our products are also extremely high quality.
For example, the Mehes table has a top made from high-density laminate. It is thin, very hard, water-resistant and lasts for years. The foundation of Ahrend’s closed-loop thinking is good design. But it doesn’t stop there. Our products are modular and reusable. You don’t have to replace an entire piece of furniture. We bring in the product, replace components where necessary, add functionalities and make sure that they can be put back in operation. If replacing parts is no longer feasible, then all the materials are one hundred percent recyclable. Add to that the fact that we manufacture as energy-efficiently as possible and continually use the latest innovative materials, and you can see that sustainability at Ahrend is a given. That’s how we create value for ourselves, our clients and our end-users.”
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