The oldest listed real estate company in the Netherlands, Wereldhave, is charting a new course at WTC Schiphol Airport. ‘This location fits the image we want to project to our clients and investors’, says CIO Riemer Smink.
In late 2012, Wereldhave took the decision to begin focusing specifically on mid-sized retail centres in north-western Europe. ‘We had conducted an extensive analysis of our portfolio and the conclusion was that this market offered the best business prospects for us’, explains Chief Investment Officer Riemer Smink. ‘Around the same time, we decided to change the way we approach our work. We wanted to foster knowledge-sharing within the company as well as more interaction between colleagues.’
Be the company you want to be
At the time, the firm was based in The Hague. But its premises there were not suited to the envisioned new working method. ‘It was a splendid old embassy building with high ceilings and separate rooms for everyone, complete with fireplaces. Beautiful, yes, but no longer right for the company we wanted to be.’ So that is why the company decided to go in search of a new location. Smink continues, ‘We drew up a list of the main criteria that our new office would have to fulfil. First of all, we wanted everyone to be set up on the same floor, with office landscapes and a central open space where we could all come together for informal chats and meetings.’
Staff and market-driven location
‘Also, we wanted a central location in the Netherlands that would ensure good access for our staff both now and in the future. We scrutinised where exactly we could find the types of people we need to grow as a company, and that turned out to be the Amsterdam metro region. And then when you look at where the best road and public transport connections are, the obvious answer is Schiphol. And beyond that, this is the ideal location for a company focused on the European market. The gates are literally within walking distance. This move has drastically cut our commuting times and we’ve also noticed that clients are more inclined to drop by for a quick meeting when they’ve got to be at Schiphol anyway.’
Transparency and enterprise
‘The World Trade Center at Schiphol ticked all of our boxes’, Smink says, ‘even if we didn’t realise that straight away. The office is actually composed of three different spaces, but we merged them to create a single office. We were fortunate that the landlord was willing to work with us to make that possible. When designing the office layout, our aim was to key into Wereldhave’s new company culture and values, such as transparency and enterprise. We want to maximise opportunities for people to exchange information as that’s crucial in our business. This open environment has brought us all sorts of advantages compared to the setup we had in The Hague. Because there is more interaction, processes go faster and quality is higher. It’s truly an improvement on every front.’