Four styles of working, four zones, four core elements: the simplest way, according to real estate services and investment firm CBRE, to think about its new Amsterdam HQ. We’ve long seen offices adapt to ‘new ways of working’ by providing quiet zones for focused work and social spaces for collaboration. But CBRE went a step further with its office, a.k.a. The Core, by categorizing its staff into four ‘types’: thinkers, doers, creatives and analysts – and then developing zones to suit each type’s productive flow.

Employees (and visitors) are first welcomed in the café, a hospitality space that doubles as an informal work and meeting area. The café shifts into the Workshop, which the company describes as ‘a hotbed of teamwork’. The Client Lab beyond is an area for co-creation with clients, while the upstairs Library is the quiet zone.

Ramon Beijen – the company’s creative director of workplace strategies and design – says The Core is ‘not about activity-based working but about workstyle-based working. We’re focused more on the individual – what are his or her needs?’ Each area reflects what CBRE defines as the project’s four core elements: a healthy working environment, setting the standard when it comes to sustainability, measuring the performance of the building using smart tech, and support for cooperation and co-creation.

Beijen says the biggest experiment is the Client Lab. CBRE no longer has a meeting centre; the lab is more about co-creation, experimentation and events. As such, it’s a flexible environment – ‘everything is movable’, says Beijen – that can adapt to a client’s needs. It hosts everything from 600-person gatherings to so-called ‘creative camps’, which see CBRE team members, clients and other experts hunker down together for a predetermined period to come up with a solution to a client’s burning question.  

The lab also reflects changes in the way CBRE works with clients. Just over a year ago, the organization streamlined its design process, removing various back-and-forth stages with clients in favour of transitioning directly from concept master plan to final design. In the lab’s material showroom, clients can make on-the-spot decisions together with CBRE. ‘More often, clients are coming to us rather than vice versa,’ says Beijen. ‘And at The Core, they can have more input and more easily collaborate with us.’