Big tech companies have become famous for their quirky office space, with features ranging from tube slides to fireman poles becoming a staple of the global offices of tech giants. In South Africa, local Google and Facebook offices also drew attention when they opened, thanks to features most nine-to-fivers can only dream of.

It seems that the need to attract employees has spilled over to a number of different industries, with many companies opting to upgrade their office space to appeal to millennials.

According to an article on Euronews, banks and other financial institutions in Europe have started looking to the tech and startup industries for inspiration in terms of office design.

One prominent Danish Bank, Nordea, has included things like trendy fashion shows as a part of their marketing strategy to attract twenty-something and thirty-something employees to institutions that are increasingly more tech-oriented than before. As banking has moved online, financial institutions in search of the brightest young minds have to compete with other tech-oriented organisations, and it seems the verdict is that office space has a big role to play.

Troels Berg, chief operating officer at ISS, a top facility services firm with a list of customers that includes most of Europe’s 25 biggest banks, believes that converting office space has an enormous role to play in attracting and retaining new talent.

“Seventy-seven percent of millennials say that the workspace is more important than salary,” says Berg.

Nordea aims to create office space that straddles the line between feeling like a bank and a startup, and has partnered with ISS in doing so. Mostly known for cleaning and catering services, one of ISS’s fastest-growing areas is now its business of creating unique workplace experiences. Initiatives like an office tour to support knowledge sharing, or a pop-up car wash in the basement are created by so-called “experience managers”.

Says Dino Portelli, an experience manager contracted by a global bank in New York: “My role is to help create a culture that’s more relevant to generation Z.”

“Banks are very corporate, but here it feels like you are in a Google (office). They arrive in their suits on Monday. By Wednesday they’re in slacks. And by Friday they’re playing ping-pong.”

Does office space really matter that much when employees are increasingly starting to work remotely, away from the traditional office? When you are competing with Facebook and Google, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes”.

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