CBRE: Can an office environment improve company ability to attract people and retain them?

In the current situation on the labor market, yes!

CBRE, the world leader in the commercial real estate services and American Chamber of Commerce organized a panel discussion on the topic “How to use workplace to attract new talent?” as a part of the activities of AmCham’s Human Resources Committee and Real Estate Council. In discussion took part David Mansfeld, Managing Director of Johnson & Johnson, Richard Curran, Managing Director of CBRE, Josef Švenda, Regional Sales Director of Oracle and Ladislav Kučera, Managing Director of Hays.

Ladislav Kučera, the head of Hays, and chair of AmCham’s Human Resource Committee said: “The office is the first impression people have of how it will be to work with you and that is becoming more and more important. A few years ago, the compensation you offered counted for 70-80% of a recruit’s decision. Now, it is 60%. Where you are located, the quality and style of your building, and the atmosphere in your office is a big part of that other 40%. You should not discount how much the decision is influenced by the recruit’s first impression when they walk in the building.”

David Mansfeld, who runs Johnson & Johnson’s global services operations in Prague, agrees: “I intentionally let people sit in the office for a few minutes before the interview so they can get a feel for how we work here. It is a good and proven way how to promote our organization.”

Both David Mansfeld and Josef Švenda have recently overseen decisions to upgrade their office environment. Both are moving to the new office complex built on the historic Walter aircraft factory on the outskirts of Smíchov. “We had been in our previous space for some time and had reached a point at which we needed to invest into extensive refurbishment,” Švenda explained. “It was an opportunity to ensure that the quality of the building fit the overall brand.”

Richard Curran of CBRE has the experience of helping both Mansfeld and Švenda upgrade their environment, and doing the same thing for his company. “You have to remember that this is something that should not and will not work perfectly on day one,“ he counselled. “Some things that you want to work will not work, and some things that you could not imagine during the initial process will become important. It is necessary to be able to adapt. I would also advise you to make changes that make sense for what you do, and not just try to copy some cool pictures in a magazine,” he continued. “Take the idea of eliminating personal desks, and pushing people to share space. This works if you need people to move between teams and parts of the organization. If you do not need to have this kind of flow, maybe you should not do it just because it is the new trend.”

Curran and CBRE are the organizers of Zasedačka roku, an annual contest that has grown impressively since its start in 2014. The past year, 8 winners were chosen from the 78 nominations; their offices can be previewed at the contest’s website,

Švenda cautions that the value of such an investment into office space should not be over- or underestimated. “People need to remember that office supports the brand, but it cannot become the brand,” he explained. “Potential employees are still going to affix a certain value to desirability for working in your company from the reputation of your products and services, and their success, and current employees are going to get much of their attitude about the company from how much responsibility they are given, and how well they are managed.”

“I would also warn executives from thinking that you can put an exact number on the return of this type of investment,” he said. “I take it as an investment in the engagement of employees, but I recognize that it is only one influence. Nevertheless, I think we are getting the return we wanted, bit by bit.”

About CBRE

CBRE Group, a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (in terms of 2016 revenue). The Company has approximately 75,000 employees and serves real estate investors and occupiers through approximately 450 offices worldwide (excluding affiliates). CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services including project management; property management; investment management; valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting and research and consulting. In the Czech Republic, CBRE has almost 350 employees and manages nearly 70 commercial premises with a total area nearly 1.2 mil. sq. m. Read more at