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Workplace efficiency and a sense of belonging at Grupa Żywiec/Heineken

The experience of Covid and the aspiration of employees to have more control over where and when they work has led to a complete rethinking of the workplace at Grupa Żywiec, part of the Heineken group.

Andrzej Borcyck, People Director at the Polish company, says that the core aims of the redesign were to create both workplace efficiency and a sense of belonging, as he told a meeting of the European Smart Work Network.

The implementation is characterised by an approach that is employee-focused, evidence-based, and open to learning as the new workplace and a new culture of work were rolled out.

It’s an approach we always advocate at the Smart Work Network, to ask employees what they are looking for in their work, their workplace and their working life. This was done by both an employee survey and a series series of interviews, back up by an extensive space utilisation survey.

Employees responded that they wanted:

  • Flexible time
  • Remote work
  • Space dedicated to different kinds of work
  • Space for integration – being with colleagues
  • Privacy
  • Spaces dedicated to meet
  • Good ergonomics
  • Spaces to relax

So a key conclusion from this consultation is that it wasn’t only about the workplace – it’s about the culture: how people have choices about their work, and also how they spend time working and socialising with their colleagues.

Employees said they wanted a design that was more like home, and favoured a loft-style design. It’s a place to be together, relax and have fun, more than an office, according to Andrzej.

The new workplace includes a bar, reflecting the nature of the company and supporting the creation of community. The bar area is also a place for town hall meetings, meeting visitors, and employees can also invite friends and family in after work.

The workplace bar at Grupa Ziwiec
The workplace bar at Grupa Ziwiec


The workplace reflects a new culture with much more emphasis on working as a team, on cross-team collaboration,  and breaking down hierarchy.

There’s been a move to shared spaces, including for management team. There are more small private rooms for short calls. The data from the utilisation survey has also enabled the size of meeting rooms to be adjusted in line with usage.

Small meeting room with good acoustic treatment
Small meeting room. Note the attention to acoustics

The project has also been a learning process. According to Andrzej, if you adopt a hybrid kind of work, you have to be prepared to learn all the time, be flexible and adapt. You can’t set a policy that won’t change in the future.

An important learning from employees experience during Covid is about work-life integration, rather than work-life balance. So going forward, it’s about asking employees how to do it, and learn from it.

You can see the whole of Andrzej Borcyck’s presentation in the video (above). Members can also log in and download the presentation.

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