“In a digital world, so many companies today – from Uber to Apple – are fighting for the same people,” explains René Karreman, Royal HaskoningDHV’s Global Director of Workplace Strategies. “They want software engineers, technicians, through to marketing and brand. So how are you going to differentiate? Suddenly the modern workplace must offer more.”
As the pandemic hit, Booking.com was in the middle of one of the biggest urban projects in Western Europe – consolidating their multiple offices across Amsterdam into a single headquarter campus. Trying to build their workplace vision as the ground shifted beneath them was the ultimate challenge – but one they look set to overcome as the ‘project of a lifetime’ completes later this year.
Walking out of the sun and into the lobby, Jayne is greeted by a sense of calm. The sun still shines down on her though the building’s canopy high above, but the air is cool and the bustle of morning activity outside quietens to a ripple of noise. The lobby breaks off into an auditorium and event spaces to be used by the company and local community alike.
How did Booking.com actually build this?
It’s a thought many will have when they see the building complete. The answer is: not alone! “Yes, building something from scratch was completely new to us!” Bob says with a smile: “Especially the structural elements, the ‘core and shell’ as it’s called. We needed experienced advisors and collaborators all along the way.” One of the first was Royal HaskoningDHV; whose footprint of civil engineering, architecture and design can be found across Amsterdam. René Karreman and Project Manager Jeroen Samsom were the lynchpins of the Royal HaskoningDHV team that Booking.com appointed to draw up the requirements for the core and shell of their new home.
After grabbing a coffee, Jayne heads to her Product team on the 8th floor and as she rises, she sees every floor has the theme of a different location – from Greece to Tokyo – a nod to the travel at the heart of Booking.com’s promise; but also the 100+ nationalities represented in the HQ’s 5,000 strong workforce. Jayne has never been to Greece, but it seems at her 3pm meeting on the 6th floor, she’ll finally get the chance.
While the floors have their themes, the teams that work on them vary. It is a choice encouraged early on by the Royal HaskoningDHV team, who suggested Booking.com build on the smart and agile ways of working that they had instilled for years; using the physical workplace to promote the building of ideas across silos.
“Being spread across Amsterdam before, Booking.com’s tech environment was separate from their software, or from their marketing.” René explains: “We said, your proposition – to employees and customers – will improve if all those people interact; if they mingle and meet – on purpose or by accident.”
It’s a day that flows quickly as Jayne and her team work on a new product development. She pulls in other team members from across the floor for their quick opinions and thoughts – and breaks out onto one of the terraces when the team need to get their heads together. In the light of the Amsterdam afternoon, their work is shaping the future of Booking.com’s customer experience.
It’s a strong vision for the modern workplace – and one Bob and the Booking.com team imagine with pride and excitement for the completion of construction this November and opening doors to employees in the Spring: “Building this home really took a lot of our goals to another level.” Bob says: “With the wellbeing of our employees as our guiding star, we set a high bar across the board, and we got up and reached for it every day for six years. I think it’s the project of my life.”
We are always looking for talents who want to collaborate closely with colleagues, clients and stakeholders and offer a new perspective to illustrate the bigger societal and technological picture. Talents who uses their deep domain knowledge to shape innovative solutions to make the transition to smart and sustainable possible. All the while considering the ethical implications of these solutions, to ensure we are driving positive change at every level: globally and locally, for our today and our tomorrow.