Do you see any differences between the Dutch and Belgian markets?
In the Netherlands, Ahrend is a household name. In Belgium, Ahrend is of course well-known, but has less historical connection. A traditional image? I don't experience that at all! Certainly not with the path we are taking internationally on circularity. I think we are innovative in this, creating added value, while telling a great story to the customer. If you look purely at our furniture, yes it is timeless, but we do produce with a very long guarantee and longevity. Ahrend is future-proof and sustainable.
Where is the international need in terms of vitalising & sustainable working environments?
Making your office attractive and an ergonomic home office is a fantastic asset, but certainly not the only one. Many companies have labour shortages and hybrid working has increased distance. There is therefore a big challenge, besides creating a vitalising working environment, to create connectivity and added value.
I personally see that more in meaning and fulfilment. What I have noticed is that HR plays a prominent role in this. As a company, each depending on its own organisational culture, how do you treat your people sustainably? I am curious to see how companies will interpret this, because it is really an and-and story.
‘There is therefore a big challenge, besides creating a vitalising working environment, to create connectivity and added value.’
What does the ideal working environment look like for you?
For me, that's a broad term! Here in Brussels, we have the privilege of working in a fantastic Ahrend showroom. We often receive visits from customers and they too are usually amazed by what we have to offer. It is an open and pleasant environment, where you choose your own place each day to best fulfill your work.
But to be honest, I see an office environment more like a campus. A place where there is movement day and night. Where you can choose to meet colleagues in the morning, meet with clients to spar over ideas in the afternoon and attend a workshop in the evening. That you get a pooling of knowledge and can connect! I no longer believe in an office environment where people work from 9 to 5.
‘It is an open and pleasant environment, where you choose your own place each day to fulfil your work to the best of your ability.’
How do you keep yourself vigorous at work?
I am personally into wellbeing a lot, focusing on a healthy work-life balance. I exercise a lot, I eat healthy and at work I start with three focal points every day. These are all things that I find add value to my life.
You are of course individually responsible for vitality, but as an organisation you can also encourage employee awareness in this area. One way to do this is by using vital workplaces and spaces.
Which customer created the most value for you?
We recently did a great project for Brussels Airport Company. A project where I worked intensively with the client towards a sustainable goal. In doing so, they opted for a circular approach within the office building. From the collaboration areas, to the meeting rooms, from the coffee corner to the ergonomic sit-stand workstations; everything has been tackled considerably by reusing existing furniture. The client took an integrated approach to vitality and sustainability and has propagated this to all employees.