Improving Employee Experience and Optimizing Your Portfolio

Sabine Ehm and Roel Stroeken look at the recent shift in how people perceive the workplace and how it’s changing the employee experience.

Over the past decade, there has been a big shift in how people perceive the workplace. In this episode, Sabine Ehm and Roel Stroeken discuss this evolution in mindset and how it’s changing the employee experience. 

Meet the guest

Roel Stroeken is the Head of Real Estate for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region of Philips. Philips is broken into many sectors, with 650 locations globally. Roel and his team are in charge of facility management, project management, strategy and innovation, mergers and acquisitions, and disposal of unneeded lands for roughly 50% of the company’s portfolio. 


Managing a workforce of 40,000 people takes a deep understanding of human behavior. Luckily, with a degree in Hotel Management, Roel knows a thing or two about hospitality. The following clips provide more insight into Roel’s perspective on what keeps employees happy, and what the office of the future will look like. 


“In modern days, you see a trend that real estate is shifting towards reporting to the HR [departments].” – Roel Stroeken



Traditionally, CRE managers reported to finance departments headed by CFO’s. Consequently, only money and space optimization mattered. In the past several years, large companies have started to take a broader look at the KPIs used in measuring successful real estate ventures. If a happy employee means higher output, this metric should be included in strategy planning. 


Philips performs globally-recognized wellness studies before, during, and after new workplace developments. In this episode, Roel speaks about the metrics they track that go beyond the dollar amount. 


“The true value of the company are its people, and we need to take care of them. But, due to some strategic decisions, we have organized ourselves as companies slightly different. ” – Roel Stroeken



Roel’s main focus is always bettering the employee experience for the entire Philips team. Figuring out the best way to provide support and incentives is at the top of his list – this requires technical changes. Surprisingly to some, providing more space doesn’t always translate into higher employee satisfaction. In fact, over the next few years, Roel’s focus will be on footprint reduction. In other words, consolidation of key locations. 

“If we manage [the] occupancy [of our] buildings better, then it improves our desk-people ratio. People find it much more energizing to come into work because it’s not too crowded. ” – Roel Stroeken



Throughout the pandemic, employees have learned how to work from home. As a result, they also understand the value that comes with it. This means that if Philips wants them back in the office, there will have to be strong incentives. 


Workers go into the office to connect, challenge each other, and co-create. So, Roel suggests offices of the future will function more like conference centers: coworking spaces, luxurious food options, and various tools. “Hospitality and experience are keywords for the office of the future.”

“I do believe that this is going to be a crucial aspect for success of workplaces: to actually include employees much more, and make them aware of their behaviors, because I think a lot of things [happen subconsciously]” – Sabine Ehm



Managing employee experience will help improve optimization, too. If workers understand their behaviors better, they can plan ahead accordingly. Sabine and Roel look at a scenario of booking meeting rooms when overall occupancy is lower. This can create a better experience for not only those attending, but for those in the office when the meeting would have naturally been booked. Giving workers insight into CRE choices can help create a ripple effect of workplace satisfaction. This can lead them to start making optimized choices independently. 


“[Post-COVID] we really have an excellent opportunity, because there’s momentum to take people by the hand and lead them to a slight change, how to use the office environment. I think that can lead them to a much better office experience”. – Roel Stroeken


To have a lasting, successful company, you need happy employees. Roel’s top goal is to create environments that optimize expenditure without under-providing for Philips workers. Leaning on HR KPIs and gathering data beyond dollar amounts will help improve this balance. As well, bringing in people from the front-line will push this movement. Workers will understand CRE choices and can make conscious choices to improve their experiences, too. 

Listen to this and other episodes of The Workplace Leader here.

About the author

Michelle Pijanowski

Michelle Pijanowski

Marketing and Content Coordinator

A traveller at heart, Michelle has always been excited by storytelling and connecting with people from all walks of life. Her passion for content creation started when she accidentally landed an internship in marketing that ended up leading her into the worlds of social media and journalism. Now equipped with a degree in Communication and Media from the University of Calgary in Canada, she supports the Locatee team as the Marketing and Content Coordinator.

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