Germany embraces glitzy offices to shake up corporate culture
By Jens Hack and Emma Thomasson
MUNICH/HERZOGENAURACH, Germany (Reuters) - Major German companies are investing in ambitious new buildings designed to attract top staff and encourage innovation, seeking to create a more dynamic corporate culture and keep pace with U.S. rivals despite investor concerns about the cost.
Germany is competing in a global race for top talent, particularly in technology and design, as firms such as Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) and Facebook (FB.O: Quote) work on futuristic campuses with gardens, fitness facilities and gourmet restaurants.
Siemens (SIEGn.DE: Quote) opens new headquarters in downtown Munich on Friday, a move it hopes will help Chief Executive Joe Kaeser's drive to open up the engineering giant founded in 1847 to new ideas, loosen hierarchies and increase staff engagement.
Investors have questioned how much glitzy buildings can really help improve performance. Apple's new "spaceship" campus is now well behind schedule and over budget at $5 billon.
After the near collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: Quote) in 2008, its new 350 million-pound ($518 million) headquarters was dubbed "Fred's Folly" after disgraced former CEO Fred Goodwin.
Shareholders have also complained about an upgrade of PepsiCo's (PEP.N: Quote) headquarters, set amid lakes and fountains.
Siemens says it is investing a figure in the "low triple- digit millions" of euros in its building, which collects rainwater to flush toilets and will use 90 percent less electricity and 75 percent less water than its predecessor. Continued...