How to improve employee experience and optimize CRE portfolio. With Roel Stroeken

Sabine Ehm and Roel Stroeken discuss the recent shift in how people perceive the workplace and how to improve the employee experience.

Sabine Ehm and Roel Stroeken look at the recent shift in how people perceive the workplace. In this episode, they discuss how to improve the employee experience.

Over the past decade, there has been a big shift in how people perceive workplace experience. It goes in line, of course, with the rise of smart offices. Workplace flexibility and engagement are now placed front and center in terms of employee experience. Sabine Ehm and Roel Stroeken talk about this evolution in mindset and how it’s changing the employee experience. 

Our workplace management guest 

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

Workplace design trends: looking into the future

Managing a workforce of 40,000 people takes a deep understanding of human behavior. Luckily, Roel has a degree in Hotel Management. That’s why he knows a thing or two about hospitality. The following clips provide more insight into Roel’s perspective on what keeps employees happy. You will see his vision of what the office of the future will look like. In addition, the article takes into account such workplace design trends factors as hybrid work, remote work, and workplace culture.

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

Traditionally, corporate real estate (CRE) managers have reported to the finance departments headed by CFO’s. Consequently, only money and space optimization mattered in a CRE strategy. Over the past few years, large companies have started to take a broader look at space planning and forecasting. They are also looking at the KPIs, used to measure successful real estate ventures. 

Experience-driven decisions for workspace management

In terms of experience, a happy employee means higher output. This metric should be included in strategic planning and workplace management. 

Philips performs globally-recognized wellness studies before, during, and after new workplace developments. Roel speaks about space efficiency and the metrics they track that go beyond the financials.


“The true value of the company is 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


Understanding employee requirements

Roel’s main focus is always to optimize the employee experience for the entire Philips team. Figuring out the best way to provide support and incentivize is at the top of his list. This requires technical changes. Surprisingly to some, providing more space doesn’t always translate into a better employee experience. In fact, over the next few years, Roel’s focus will be on footprint reduction, space planning, and forecasting. 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


How to optimize the employee experience with the power of connections

Throughout the pandemic, employees have learned how to manage remote and hybrid work. 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, as well as to co-create. Roel suggests smart offices of the future will function more like conference centers. They will have agile co-working spaces and luxurious food options. They will allow various tools that make use of real estate technology and focus on tenant experience. “Hospitality and experience are keywords for the office of the future.”

“I do believe that this is going to be a crucial aspect for the 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


Flexible spaces of the smart offices of the future

It’s vital to optimize the employee experience. If workers understand their behaviors better, they can plan ahead accordingly and embrace space efficiency. Sabine and Roel look at a scenario of booking meeting rooms when overall occupancy is lower. This can create a better, more agile experience for not only those attending. But also for those in the office when the meeting would have naturally been booked. Such workplace design trends as open offices, hot desking arrangements, and co-working spaces put the focus on employee experience. Also, 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. So, we can show how to use the office environment. I think that can lead them to a much better office experience”. – Roel Stroeken

Conclusion for how to improve the employee experience

In order 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. In addition, bringing in people from the front line will push this movement. Workers will need to understand corporate real estate planning. Then they can also make conscious choices to improve their experiences.

Listen to this (episode No. 5) and other podcast episodes.



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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 Junior Marketing Manager.

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