Article

04.06.2018

2030, the future of work

Will the labour market in 2030 be blue, red, green or yellow? Consulting firm PwC tried to create four possible scenarios. This interesting projection exercise serves, above all, as a reason to begin a debate about the future workforce.

What will the labour market look like by the year 2030? This is a question that needs to be asked in an era characterised by significant technological shifts such as the automation of tasks, machine learning, as well as the emergence of new jobs and the requirement for the appropriate "human" skills. The revolution changing how we work is like a train that set off a few years ago and is travelling faster and faster, bringing changes for all of society. And the challenge for HR and other departments promises to be a sizeable one as everything will evolve, both now and in the future: the concept of talent, skills, modes of operating, infrastructure, tools, recruitment and training. On the eve of this major transition, consultancy company PwC imagined four possible scenarios designated by four colours.

Red: innovation holds the power

This is a fictional world where the number of US full-time employees with permanent employment contracts collapses – to 9%... This near-future scenario is typified by a lack of regulation, and gives prominence to specialists, niches and technological progress. The pace of everything becomes faster still (creativity, market entry, etc.) and the risks are greater than ever; today's successes become tomorrow's failures. On the labour market, companies are seizing talented and increasingly specialised people. Digital platforms connect supply and demand via automated processes, and competition is rife for the most highly-prized skills. For workers, experience and the highest level of specialisation both begin to outweigh graduate qualifications.

Blue: giants rule the world

The corporate giants are at the heart of PwC's blue world scenario. The larger, more powerful and more global they become, the better they can crush their competitors. These giants are dominant; they increase their profits and impose their law, even on states. But what of their staff? They are ultra-skilled and have transformed themselves into a "super workforce" of elite workers whose performance, wellbeing and risk of breakdown are measured to an obscene degree. In exchange for this constant pressure and continuous monitoring, the employees of the blue future receive a whole host of services from their company (e.g. childcare, healthcare, and so on.).

Green: the power of corporate social and environmental responsibility (CSR)

Companies are obliged to forego motor vehicles that run on fossil fuels, and account for the impact they have on the environment and society. But this green future is not about "greenwashing". CSR becomes a financial imperative because of the weight of public opinion (i.e. consumer views) and other pressures. Advances in technology support companies to achieve their green objectives and offer their staff a well-designed, well-balanced and ethical working environment. Values, including trust and loyalty, are at the heart of the relationship between employers and workers.

Yellow: humans at the centre

Despite technological progress, humans are still the pillar at the heart of society in this imaginary world. The "made by me" label, which stipulates that no machines were used to create the design, is recognised as the hallmark of quality. This is a utopia dominated by equity and ethics, where craftsmen and women are revered as sacred. Regulations establish the concept of "good jobs" and professional associations flourish. Workers act in solidarity and seek to do "what is good" through their work. Flexibility, autonomy and accomplishment are the watchwords. Society is split on the subject of the virtues and dangers of new technologies...

By imagining these four exaggerated scenarios, PwC has opened the debate on the future workforce. The report goes on to examine the challenges posed for human resources management. Read it in full to find out more.

Article

07.12.2020

Scale-up concludes mega contract in the midst of the coronavirus crisis

The Antwerp-based scale-up IPEE transforms ordinary toilets into innovative products. BNP Paribas Fortis is more than just the financial partner. IPEE have already come into contact with the right people via the bank’s network several times.

“The traditional urinal has no brain. The infrared eye simply detects that someone is standing in front of the urinal. The result? A lot of wasted water and misery”, says Bart Geraets, who founded IPEE in 2012 together with Jan Schoeters.

The scale-up devised new measuring technology that makes it possible to detect through the ceramic of a urinal when someone is urinating or when the urinal is blocked. With this innovative technology, the scale-up designed urinals that use half as much water and toilets that can be operated without touching them.

Sleek design

“IPEE is an atypical scale-up that innovates in a sector where little has changed in the past few decades”, says Conchita Vercauteren, relationship manager at the BNP Paribas Fortis Innovation Hub.

Jan Schoeters: “At first we mainly focused on durability. But we soon felt that with non-residential applications, the potential water saving is subordinate to the operational aspect. We had to be able to offer added value for each stakeholder in the purchasing process.”

We opted for sleek designs to appeal to architects and end users. The simple installation attracts fitters and maintenance people see the advantages of the sleek design - that is easy to clean - and toilets that do not overflow.

New investors

Until 2015, Schoeters and Geraets, along with Victor Claes, an expert in measuring methods and originator of the IPEE technology, put their energy into product development and market research. The financing came mainly from money that they collected in their network of friends, fools and family.

They had to go elsewhere to obtain the funds for production and marketing. Geraets: “We had a product, but it wasn’t ready to sell. To take that step, we needed investors.”

Looking for new investors was a challenge. Schoeters: “We aren’t software developers and we don’t work in a sexy sector. So we miss out with a large target group of investors.”

The young scale-up attracted the attention of Ronald Kerckhaert, who had sold his successful company, Sax Sanitair, at the end of 2015. “He pushed us to think big, more than we dared ourselves. And he never headed for an exit. His express goal was to put our product on the world market”, says Schoeters.

Growth path

IPEE has achieved impressive growth since then. The product range was expanded and new sectors were broached: educational institutes, office buildings and hospitals. The technology is now used by Kinepolis, Texaco, Schiphol and Changi Airport (Singapore).

“We very soon turned to Asia, because new technology is embraced more quickly there”, Geraets explains. The IPEE technology is distributed in Singapore - where the scale-up has its own sales office - China, Thailand and Vietnam, among other places. About half the turnover comes from abroad, although the coronavirus crisis will leave its mark this year.

Supporter

“My biggest headache is achieving healthy growth”, says Bart Geraets. One advantage for IPEE is that in coronavirus times, hygiene stands high on the agenda. The scale-up's  touchless toilet facilities meet that demand.

At the same time, the shortage of water and the need to use water sparingly is very topical. Geraets: “We notice that in these strange times we are gaining an even bigger foothold. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis we concluded a contract with the world’s biggest manufacture of toilet facilities. Now it’s a matter of further professionalising our business, the personnel policy and the marketing.”

The company’s main bank is an important partner here. Schoeters: “It is more than just a financial organisation. We have already come into contact with the right people via the bank’s network several times. Our bank feels more like a supporter that is also putting its weight behind our story.”

Article

09.10.2018

How to prevent a stroke with the help of your smartphone

Fibricheck is a medical application that anticipates strokes using just a smartphone. This kind of innovation focused on human well-being is at the heart of BNP Paribas Fortis’s sustainability strategy.

Digitalisation is affecting even medicine. Convinced that the digital world and the traditional medical world must work together, Fibricheck has developed an application to anticipate strokes. This ethos makes human interests a core concern.

By supporting this Belgian company, BNP Paribas Fortis wants to do its bit to build a more sustainable world and help new and inspiring ideas to emerge.

A diagnosis using your smartphone

Smartphones are becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives. We use them to communicate, cook and read... so why not for medical diagnosis? With Fibricheck, the user can now check their heartbeat, to anticipate the risks of a stroke. The Fibricheck application focuses on the most common kind of heart arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation, which is responsible for 20% of strokes.

How does it work?

Above all, it is important to know that Fibricheck is available only by medical prescription. Once you have installed it, you just need to put your finger on your smartphone camera for 60 seconds, for all the required data to be recorded. The algorithms will do the rest, to provide an instant result. If any anomalies are detected, the results will be analysed by a Fibricheck doctor and made available to your doctor. Technology is used to serve human interests.

An irregular heartbeat is not always easy to detect. The advantage of Fibricheck is that it does not need to be used in a specific place (e.g. at the doctor's surgery), or during a set period. It allows multiple measurements to be taken, to provide an overview of your heartbeat.

Checks in companies

The health of your employees is crucial. Heart arrhythmias do not always have clear, visible symptoms. Consequently, detection plays a crucial role in preventing the greatest risks. This is why Fibricheck is offering to check your employees.

For more information, consult the Fibricheck website.

Article

03.10.2018

Challenges when recruiting internationally

Recruiting a member of staff for relocation to a foreign subsidiary requires some careful thinking. We have compiled the questions that are most frequently asked when people are faced with this human-resources quandary.

International recruitment involves recruiting people in their company's country of origin and relocating them abroad to work in a foreign subsidiary. In a globalised world, this has become common practice. However, when setting up a Belgian company abroad you will face a series of legal obstacles, as soon as your employees cross the border out of Belgium. These include employment laws, residence permits, taxation and social security. These questions will make things clearer up for you:

Should I recruit before developing my strategy?

No. Before starting the recruitment process, the first thing that a company must do is clearly define what it wants to achieve in the country where the subsidiary will be set up. It must take cultural differences between the countries into account. If the company usually recruits locally to be on the same wavelength as its target customer, when recruiting internally candidates should be adaptable and self-reliant, but above all they should be fluent in the country's language (in English, at the very least).

Can my employee work in this country?

If the free movement of workers applies within the EEA (European Economic Area) and in Switzerland, you do not need any special permit apart from your Belgian identity card. You must have a work permit as soon as you cross the border out of this area. The paperwork to apply for this can be extensive and even complicated (particularly in the United States). It is essential you have a lawyer who specialises in immigration.

Do I need a centre of operations in the country?

If you want to employ staff in a different country, you should have a local entity. Depending on the country in question, a small entity (sometimes no more than a letterbox) can be enough.

Where should social-security contributions be paid?

In the EEA and countries that have a bilateral social security treaty with Belgium, the social security system in the country of work will apply. In situations involving simultaneous employment, the social security system in the country of residence applies. As a rule, an employee cannot be subjected to different systems. Outside the EEA, you should operate on a case-by-case basis (legal and tax advice is essential in these situations).

What about salary and working conditions?

Employees can only work in an export market if they have an employment contract adapted to the salary and working conditions of the country in question. As a general rule: the mandatory legal provisions in the country of work will take precedence over the ones that appear in your Belgian employment contract.

Where should taxes be paid?

Double taxation is not a very appealing option for employees who are being relocated to work abroad. To avoid this, Belgium has signed treaties with a large number of countries specifying the country responsible for taxing the salaries that you pay. As a general rule, workers are taxed in their country of work, except in cumulative cases (the 183-day rule), where the national law of the country responsible for taxing the salary will apply.

Can I recruit internationally from Belgium?

Yes, you can. For example, in the Brussels-Capital Region, Actiris has an International department, which selects candidates with an interest in working abroad. This body is a member of EURES, a network of more than 1,000 employment counsellors (EEA and Switzerland). If your employees do not want to be relocated abroad, its counsellors can also place your job offers on the EURES portal.

Should I go it alone?

Certainly not. The steps that you need to take before relocating one of your workers abroad or recruiting internationally are too complex for you to tackle without any advice; only a specialist firm will be able to help you take these different steps (residence permits, work permits, social-security payments, taxation).

Article

25.07.2018

Creative uses for construction waste

Most construction waste is recycled in one way or another. However, sometimes direct reuse is possible and valuable heritage can be given a second life.

Construction and demolition waste accounts for 20% of our total waste. Over 90% is reused. Sometimes via high-quality recycling, and sometimes via 'downcycling'. In the latter case, the rubble is ground up and used as granular material for road foundations. Some companies have found unique ways of taking demolition waste and fully or partially reusing it, rather than recycling it.

Schoenen Torfs are proud of 'Ten Afval'. It's a recycling project that first and foremost benefits their employees. When the company renovates one of its seventy shops, the employees are free to dismantle and empty the interior themselves. Furniture, flooring, lighting, decorations: employees can take all of it home with them.

"As a result of 'Ten Afval', the materials that are removed from the waste stream are given a second life," explains manager Wouter Torfs in Trends magazine. "It's a real win-win situation: it's better for the environment, we don't need to hire a contractor or pay landfill costs, and it keeps our employees happy."

The golden ceiling

Rotor Deconstruction has made reusing old construction materials in new projects its core business. For each demolition, this waste processing company assesses which materials are valuable enough to finance the dismantling. An excellent example of this process is the dismantling of the BNP Paribas Fortis building in Ravenstein. The building dated from 1971. The counters, strongroom, lifts and executive offices of the former Generale Bank were designed by the famous Belgian interior architect and furniture designer, Jules Wabbes.

The old 'golden ceiling' that Wabbes designed - false ceilings made from aluminium coated in gold-coloured lacquer - was repurposed in many different ways. Plusofficearchitects reused parts of the ceiling in the new auditorium of the municipal library in Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. Another piece of the golden ceiling is now hanging in Emilie Pharmacy in Schaarbeek, which architect Nathalie De Leeuw renovated for pharmacist Saïd Bounouch. The architect suggested using as many reclaimed materials as possible and went with Bounouch to browse the Rotor showroom. The gold-lacquered aluminium grille is now the focal point of the pharmacy. In the entrance, a piece of the bank's old granite floor and a few panels with photo prints by interior architect and designer Christophe Gevers were reclaimed. This gave these culturally valuable pieces of Brussels' history a new place and function in the city. Rotor Deconstruction was awarded the OVAM Ecodesign Award PRO for this project. 

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