Over the past year HLW has worked on projects for a large variety of sectors, delivering workplaces that meet the diverse needs that our clients require. Throughout this process we have gathered some important tips that you need to know if you are planning to undertake a workplace project in Europe. Here are our top 10:
1. Understand the Local Market Technically – Do your research. There are so many anomalies in various countries and regions that designers and the delivery team need to be made aware of. Here are a few we’ve discovered over the years;
- Paris: Services consultants often provide performance only and the contractor will develop the design.
- Copenhagen: It’s usual for the landlord to dictate the design team.
- Netherlands and Germany: There are much stricter regulations on amount of cubic space allowed per person.
2. Understand the Local Culture - If you are working on behalf of a multinational organisation, understanding the need to balance global real estate objectives and corporate ambitions with local needs and aspirations are vital to a successful project. Be global and local if you want to succeed.
3. A Collaborative Approach - If you don’t have a local office, find a delivery partner that can support you. Delivery partners should complement your business– they need to be an extension of your business and characterise how you want to be represented in front of clients and other consultants. Don’t settle for just anyone and ensure you clearly agree on your roles and responsibilities.
4. Language and Communication – An approach to language will probably be driven by your local and global client’s requirements. Your local partner should be bilingual. Don’t expect everyone to speak English and be understanding that sometimes you won’t understand every conversation. It is great to show that you have a basic understanding and respect of the local language and working culture.
5. The Hidden Costs – Travel time, travel, and accommodation. Don’t underestimate these costs and time. Research local market costs at the outset and understand seasonal cost fluctuations.
6. Procurement and Material Availability / Specifications – If you are specifying from the UK ensure there is availability in local markets, don’t expect a uniformed availability across the EU. Work with your local partner and UK reps to ensure availability, lead times and local appropriateness.
7. Understand Delivery Methods – As with the UK there are various methodologies for delivering construction projects across Europe. Understand how the project requirements overlay with various local delivery methods. For example in Germany, the landlord will often undertake the work for an occupier.
8. Contract Administration – Understand what this means in different countries and who performs what duties, another stumbling block if you haven’t done your research! For example in Paris, architects have to assume a degree of responsibility for the execution of the construction works and therefore take on insurance cover to protect themselves, the cost of which is passed on to the client.
9. Local Systems of Law, Finance, and Tax – Ensure that you fully understand your undertakings and requirements around fundamental issues such as tax and insurance. These change between each country and region and could be your number one barrier to delivering in a certain location.
10. Hire the Right Team – Of course! Build a team that can marry global knowledge and influence with a local cultural and technical understanding. Don’t forget that on international projects, where people are often communicating across different mediums and languages, building a strong team spirit and rapport is hugely important.