Alejandro del Conde
CEO
Vonhaucke
/
View from the Top

Office Spaces Impact Productivity and Wellbeing

By Gabriela Mastache | Mon, 06/15/2020 - 15:09

Q: How has Vonhaucke reinvented its offering over the past 60 years to remain relevant in the current Mexican corporate market?

A: Vonhaucke specializes in selling the ideal solution for a company’s office expectation. An office should reflect not only the CEO’s personality but also the company’s values. We design the best option and we ask our clients not to think they are just buying a desk or a chair but that they are creating an environment that is adequate and attractive for the business team and that will have a positive impact on productivity. Also, this environment reflects the company’s image to clients and competitors. An important factor to consider is that executives spend most of their time in the office, which means it needs to be attractive and comfortable. The office must also create an appropriate environment for interactions, considering the characteristics of the personnel and the different generations that work together on a daily basis.

However, things are changing and there has been a significant decrease in investment to set up new corporate offices. This has led us to put our natural market on stand-by and to look for new or alternative business lines, such as approaching companies that were in a triple-A corporate building and are moving to other types of buildings. We can help them in this process by preparing and adapting new spaces that have a familiar feel but in their new reality.

We manufacture quality furniture with inputs that are environmentally-friendly, opening the door to position our furniture products in other markets such as the US. We have been working with Land Rover to set up their points of sale in the US. We hope to eventually take all our furniture lines to the US market and be able to provide all our services there. We are constantly updating our business lines and the furniture we offer, with different finishes and fabrics, so every project is different. Our work is not industrial, since we do not have to produce 10,000 units of the same piece. We deliver unique pieces, which provides us with a special differentiator. This shows our ability to adapt to the different needs of any market.

Q: How receptive are Mexican companies to your message of work-space transformation?

A: The first big challenge is to find the offices that are in need of transformation. The second factor is to help them understand they do not require the most economical product but one that complies with their needs in terms of quality and price. The environment in which a team works generates more productivity if it is agreeable, comfortable and ergonomic. Our participation in space design can lead to space savings, since we can offer the best alternative that responds to ergonomic needs while at the same time taking advantage of the space. This can lead to savings in terms of rent because less space is required. We help in defining the number of square meters that companies require, as well as the size and design of common spaces.

Q: How is Vonhaucke helping to change the perception that productivity is not impacted by design?

A: It is not just productivity. The implementation of NOM-35, which dictates how businesses are required to take care of the well-being of their employees, forces companies to analyze their spaces. If people are working in saturated spaces that are not organized or too hot, it impacts their mood. Vonhaucke is conscious of that and participates constantly in developing alternatives that generate well-being. The impact of the workspace is not only felt in the attitude of workers but in their physical appearance. When you have a nice workspace, the team feels valued and in turn, this generates more commitment and people want to be in that space.

As part of our work, we have to collaborate with a company’s human resources department. One of the things we ask them is the average height of the employees. A typical desk is 75cm high, which means that shorter people will have to raise the height of their chair to be comfortable, but this prevents them from having their feet resting on the floor. This generates bad posture that will impact their back. We provide a footrest so shorter people can place their feet flat, which will help them be more comfortable. These are among the factors that offices need to consider when analyzing the productivity of employees.

Q: What trends are emerging in terms of the future office space?

A: In past years, the trend has been toward open spaces, but many offices went too far. Everything is open and there is no privacy. What we see happening is a combination of open and closed spaces for offices. There needs to be privacy for matters like a phone conversation. Also, we are seeing that since offices can sometimes get loud, which can impact concentration, there is a reassessment of the areas that can benefit from open spaces and the areas that cannot, depending on the type of job that is performed. We are seeing that having products that are environmentally friendly is also a trend that is going to guide the future. We need to adapt and work with this concept.

Q: What are Vonhaucke’s expectations for the next two years?

A: Our first priority is to consolidate as the Mexican company that offers the best alternative for office design, for both national and international clients. We hope that in two years, at least 25 percent of our products will be exported. If it takes a longer time for the corporate office market to rebound, this will help us balance our business. This does not mean that we are not focusing on our business in Mexico. We need to develop capabilities to face the changing environment.

Vonhaucke is a 100 percent Mexican company that has been in the market for 60 years. The company specializes in office and spaces design

Photo by:   MBP
Gabriela Mastache Gabriela Mastache Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst