What was TechoCon 2019 like?
It feels like yesterday, although two weeks have already passed since the third annual TechoCon conference took place. On Thursday 19.9 we met at our TECHO showroom and together we discussed the main conference theme of the Workplace of the Future, along with this year’s special themes of Well-Being a Sustainability. This year a record 650 of you registered, which we were very pleased about.
Discussions and talks took place throughout the day on the three stages. This year the main and satellite stages were joined by the Creative Stage, which gave space for architects, and other creative professionals to give their original views on office space.
A mission to inspire
The keynote morning speaker was Leon Jakimič, founder of successful Czech glassmaking firm LASVIT. They recently opened their new headquarters in Nový Bor, which serves not just as office space, but also as a symbol of the company’s love of light. It was not built on a green field site, but a modern glass building is nestled alongside original buildings that date back to 1790.
During his talk Leon focused primarily on company culture and well-being. A lot of principles that are applied in management of the company were covered. Among others, he also touched on the frequently mentioned balance between private life and work - "Work should not compete with one’s life, but be an indivisible and welcome part of it." "The identity of LASVIT rests on the people who create the brand, and our company values, which are – love and humility, activity and courage, sovereignty and responsibility, vigour and passion, innovation and, last but not least, teamwork," concluded Leon.
From feelings to hard data
The first panel discussion was on the theme “Is well-being in the workplace just a myth, or a measurable value?” All four speakers started with their own definition of what the term well-being means for them.
„For a long time now it is not a fruit bowl with oranges and bananas, and a ping-pong table in the corridor,” stated David Mansfeld of Johnson & Johnson. These are also important in a modern office environment, but much more important, according to him, is the overall environment and the planned care of people and the environment in which they work.
The “home-office” theme was discussed in the second part of the panel discussion: each of the panellists had a different idea of the scope of “home-office”. There are professions that can be practiced remotely. For David Mansfeld the limit for home office to produce mutual benefits is one day a week. On the other hand, Ivo Hrdina – whilst not doubting the benefit of – raised one important thought: “Home office does not support a community.“
A sustainable environment – workplace and worldwide?
The second panel discussion at this year’s TechoCon was conducted in English and, in contrast to the morning session, was focussed on the physical environment of office buildings and specific experience with the ways in which sustainability must be reflected in new concepts for working. In comparison with the first discussion, it was more focussed on “hard” attributes of today’s offices – buildings and the work conditions of the people who spend a large part of their day there.
“Today around 75-80% of new office buildings have LEED or BREEAM certification. It is now such an essential and standard feature that no one questions it,” stated Eva Nykodymová of SKANSKA and agreed on this with panellist Gideon van der Burg of Leesman.
Maximum information and minimum time
This in a nutshell was the Creative Stage, which we introduced for the first time this year. We invited leading Czech and international specialists, most of them architects, and we gave them 8 minutes in which to present their projects and visions.
In two blocks 12 local and international architects, designers and other specialists took to the stage. The first block was commenced by Roman Vrtiška & Vladimír Žák (Vrtiska Žák design studio), who went through the process of designing a chair. They were followed by artin Krupauer (A8000), Ondřej Chybík (CHYBIK+KRISTOF ARCHITECTS & URBAN DESIGNERS), Zdeněk Fránek (Fránek architects), Jan Aulík (Aulík Fišer Architekti) and this block was concluded by Petr Matyáš (di5). The second block, which was part of the afternoon programme, was kicked off by architect Eva Le Peutrec, followed by Lukáš Jelínek (NTT), Gideon van der Burg (Leesman), Radovan Mačák (Prague Design Hub), Kai Stania (Kai Stania) and closing the Creative Stage was Jakub Klaška (Zaha Hadid Architects).
Putting people first
The second keynote speaker was Dutch architect Michiel Hofman, who joined forces with Barbara Dujardin in 1999 to establish HofmanDujardin Architects. Today their team comprises around 40 architects, project engineers and interns with different backgrounds.
He presented a host of interesting projects, for example the headquarters of ING Bank, and also a current project for the new headquarters of Booking.com, "for which we are engaged as the main interior architects. This is one of the largest office buildings in Europe, which will be the workplace for people of over 100 nationalities. Well-being is to a certain extent a personal experience, especially with people from such a large number of different backgrounds. We have therefore designed a very varied environment so that everyone can find their own space where they will feel at home," he explained.
Michiel is the author of the design philosophy Shaping Intuition®. This characterises a personal approach to architecture that is focussed on employee satisfaction in their workplace environment. “Architecture is not about buildings, but about people. This conviction led us to develop a design philosophy that we called Shaping Intuition® and which takes a holistic approach to ensuring that people feel comfortable in their environment. All of our projects are based on four natural and four cultural values,” says Michiel. He doesn’t perceive architecture as a pure art form, but a complex field comprising a host of influences and factors. “Our cultural values are Clarity, Quality, Personality and Inspiration. The natural values are Spaciousness, Groundedness, Expression and Connection. We believe that between them we arrive at a harmony – we can create an inclusive environment in which everyone can feel at home,” he adds.
Huge amounts of energy and an unbelievable number of inspirational talks. The whole day was packed and we didn’t have time to mingle among the stands and talk to all the individual speakers. We invite you to read the ebook of this year’s conference (you will find it below) and remind yourself in detail of what took place at this year’s conference.
In conclusion we would like to thank all partners and the organisation team. We look forward to meeting sometime during the year at a Morning Meeting and then next year at the fourth annual TechoCon.
Thanks to all of you!
"The abiding emotion from this year‘s TechoCon? The huge energy of gathering hundreds of people together. This year’s record attendance figures pleased us and it gives meaning to all our efforts. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference. How would we summarise this year’s conference? What today in these times of political and economic changes can have more weight than one specific person and his/her relationship to others? This was one of the main objectives of this year’s TechoCon."
What can you look forward to in the coming months?
The conference is over now, but we will continue to further develop the TechoCon community. This will be mostly through the TechoCon Morning Meeting (TMM).
Would you like to keep up to date with all the latest news from the fast changing world of offices and also have the opportunity to register for the next TechoCon Morning Meeting? Follow us on the internet and we will see you next year for the fourth annual conference.