When people visit an office, the first point of contact is the receptionist. Visitors announce themselves, tell the receptionist with whom they have an appointment, and take place in the waiting area. According to Juriaan Vreeburg, Director Facility Service at NautaDutilh, this type of front desk is outdated. The internationally acclaimed law firm decided that it was time for hospitality 2.0.
Since the summer of ’16, the hypermodern 400 Beethovenstraat building functions as the Amsterdam branch of international law firm NautaDutilh. The architects at UN Studio designed 16.200 m2 of unconventional and surprising office environment. Employees almost literally feel ‘at home’ due to the use of elements from living spaces like our own homes. This world activates and inspires to connect.
The different floors of the building are connected by central stairs to improve interdepartmental communication. Spaces for spontaneous meetings are mixed with individual workplaces, meeting rooms, and leisure areas. A number of terraces offer the possibility to step outside and enjoy the view over the city.
NautaDutilh is one of the most substantial international law firms in Europe. Over 400 bright legal minds solve challenges for clients in Amsterdam, Brussel, London, Luxembourg, New York, and Rotterdam. Moving from the WTC in Amsterdam to 400 Beethovenstraat was the right moment to start thinking about a truly distinctive office experience. Director Facility Services Juriaan Vreeburg was handed the responsibility to express the company’s identity in both services and facilities.
Core services are all about experience
Vreeburg started looking for facilities that would match NautaDutilh’s mission and vision. “Our people contribute to our clients’ success by assisting them with their legal challenges. We help our staff to fully explore their capabilities by making sure every service in their environment runs smoothly. An impeccable service to both clients and employees is essential, not in the last place because we want to be employer of choice.”
The facilities and services at NautaDutilh were to improve productivity, knowledge sharing, efficiency, and flexibility. These were the goals for the core services: reception, security, catering, and cleaning. After an extensive tender procedure NautaDutilh chose bouwens&, Vermaat, and CSU.
Today, visitors of 400 Beethovenstraat are welcomed in a warm and proactive way, drink fresh coffee made by a barista, and eat a sustainable, healthy meal in the restaurant. Employees see their performances optimized by an office environment where all factors are aimed at success. Vreeburg: “We want to surpass everyone’s expectations from the moment they walk in. It’s this first impression that employees and guests take home and that sets the tone for every meeting and interview we have”.
Ultimate personal service
Vreeburg took a good look at other corporate environments. “In many offices you see receptionists that stay seated behind their front desk when visitors walk in. There’s a lot to gain here, for every organization. How people are welcomed sets the tone for their entire visit and determines the feeling that people have. When a receptionist approaches and welcomes you, knows your name, escorts you to your meeting and makes sure you get the coffee you like, you will feel appreciated.”
During meetings and brainstorm sessions with NautaDutilh’s facility management, bouwens& developed an innovative hospitality concept. It was both parties’ ambition to offer clients and employees the ultimate personal service. Bouwens& founder Michael Bouwens: “Visitors feel as if there is a personal assistant available that knows their specific preferences and requests.” Vreeburg adds: “People are more and more critical and aware of receptions and services. At the same time, our building became an inspiring meeting place, more than an office. The Personal Host connects visitors with employees and assists whenever needed. A fresh cappuccino, connecting a beamer, arranging catering, calling a taxi; anything is possible.”
Quest because of new profile
After developing the hospitality concept, bouwens& implemented this new ‘philosophy’ in all aspects of its reception services (profile, training, guest journey, and work clothing. MIchael Bouwens: “The Personal Host differs completely from a traditional receptionist. It’s a profile that is even more demanding than a modern host. To fill this position, we need people with a strong personality, hosts that are sharp and ready to assist at all times.” After a careful selection procedure, suitable candidates were introduced to NautaDutilh’s facility manager in Amsterdam. The then selected candidates started the training program.
Who is the Personal Host?
The Personal Host:
- represents personal service, breaths hospitality, and is always available;
- analyses visitors and determines the nature of their visit;
- collects personal requests and needs for every visitor and employee;
- acts proactively and fast, knows that people demand direct assistance;
- needs only a few questions to determines where and how service is required;
- communicates clearly and efficiently, while remaining warm and personal;
- switches quickly between situations and always remains in control.
Instead of a conventional front desk, the reception in the entrance hall is formed by two organically shaped objects, made by artist and designer Joris Laarman. The objects point out the visitor’s route in a natural fashion. One of them is the personal host’s station, the other is a seating area for visitors. These are welcomed by the Personal Host who approaches them from behind her desk. The objects make the reception area artistic, functional, and inspiring at the same time.
After a warm welcome at the entrance, people are escorted to the 11th floor which is connected to the ground floor by a third object from Laarman. The 11th and 12th floor form the meeting center, with a range of meeting rooms in all sizes.
The Personal Host never loses track of guests during their visit. This creates a personal, proactive, and mobile service to people throughout the entire building. Bouwens calls this ‘dynamic hosting’, a new style of reception services that has been translated into handbooks, instructions, and trainings.
Hospitality and security
The ambitions and skills of the Personal Host don’t stop at dynamic hosting. Phone center, event support, and even a number of security tasks are all met with confidence and expertise. This diversity offers the personal host new challenges every time, which makes for an interesting job on the long run.
Incoming telephone calls are answered behind the scenes, allowing visitors to work, talk, read, or relax in a quiet environment. In a similar fashion, security is also invisible. In its role of security agent, the Personal Host maintains his or her stabile appearance, attitude, and way of operating; people don’t notice that they are talking with a security officer! Predictive profiling ensures fast detection of suspicious persons and situations. When needed, the Personal Host responds swiftly by confronting and asking specific questions. Besides that, the Personal Host is responsible for conventional security tasks such as making opening, fire, and closing rounds.
Guest journey A to Z
Immediately after moving into the new offices, we charted the new guest journey. From the website and the building’s intercom system, to the parking garage, entrance hall, elevator, and meeting center. In this process, the front office service was not regarded from the point of view of the Personal Host, but from that of the guest! After all, their specific needs and preferences need to be quickly recognized by the Personal Host.
Bouwens: “There are mystery visits every quarter. These tests offer an objective view on the service process and the hosts’ performances; essential in learning what we can improve. We also evaluate the development and skills of the Personal Host in a quarterly individual meeting. Where does this employee stand and what are his or her goals? Then we facilitate growth through intensive guidance and coaching and we offer training and workshops at the bouwens& Hospitality Academy. This motivates and improves our people. The result? Visitors are greeted and assisited by involved and passionate hosts.”
The future looks bright
One year after the opening of the new offices, Vreeburg clearly sees how visitors and employees benefit from the new facilities and services. “In our previous office the facility services really weren’t bad, but at 400 Beethovenstraat we managed to achieve something special. People literally walk out the door with big smiles on their faces.
There is always room for improvement though! Together with bouwens& we’ll keep on raising the bar. The future looks bright!”