Modern office spaces reflect company’s identity, but they can also be a very important motivator and driver for the people. We talked with Annalisa Giangregorio, Sr. Graphic Designer, and Riccardo Onorato, Graphic & Multimedia Designer, on how to create an office space that combines maximum performance & wellness
How should an ideal work space look like in your opinion?
Annalisa: The ideal work space should increase business opportunities and improve communication. We know that human capital boosts economy of a company, that’s why a work space must be comfortable and practical at the same time. Since employees spend around 9 hrs per day in the office it’s preferable to have areas where people can meet spontaneously or unwind for a moment. As we learned from the tech companies born in Silicon Valley or Palo Alto, where the digital revolution started, the cubicle offices are finally gone. Concrete walls have been replaced by glass walls.
Riccardo: I believe that an ideal work space needs to reflect the company’s values. So the result will not be only something aesthetic, but will reflect profoundly company’s identity. Anyone who looks at the space and decoration has to understand at first sight the company and its approach to the people. For instance, having a comfort zone and a space dedicated to the kitchen says a lot about the importance that Neomobile gives to relax and community, moments in which people are able to “recharge” before continuing their daily tasks.
An ideal work space should be a proactive reminder that expresses the identity of a company.
What kind of impact has the environment on productivity and effectiveness of the company, and of course on the mood of the employees?
Riccardo: Creating a good work space helps create a good atmosphere among colleagues. And this is probably what increases the productivity and efficiency: a joke shared among colleagues or a smile can be a great engine to face the working day. It is impossible to think to develop this complicity between colleagues if the work space doesn’t enable these shared moments, like spaces for foosball or table tennis, and also moments dedicated to the private sphere, as our phone boots to have a comfortable private conversation. Two sides of the same coin allow a company to establish a trust relationship with the people that can independently manage their work and leisure time.
Annalisa: Exactly! The main problem is that usually work space is viewed as a cost and not as a driver of performance. For example Gallup.com estimated that US companies lost $450 billion in 2013 due to employee disengagement. As you can imagine, the environment together with the corporate culture enables productivity and stimulates innovation, thus bringing inevitably a better business results. In Neomobile we always worked in this direction, investing in human capital through both culture and our work spaces.
How would you describe Neomobile’s offices in just one word?
Annalisa: Shaped on our needs and culture.
Let’s take a closer look into the creative process itself. Could you tell you more about your main role in office decoration projects and who do you collaborate with mostly?
Annalisa: Our main role as a Corporate Communication team is to understand the company’s needs and to convert them into elements that reflect our nature. We, as designers, convey those needs into visual identity, analyzing the best mediums. We choose adequate format for a certain kind of message, from posters, stickers, painting, graffiti, always keeping in mind our final client, the Neomobile community. We usually work side by side with Country Managers, balancing requests, local needs and, of course, the budget.
Riccardo: This is actually one of the most challenging part of our work, to develop the identity and signage system starting from creativity already coordinated in all our offices, considering the specific needs that that each Country might have. For example, our office of Sao Paolo has only one bathroom: knowing that solution might not please the ladies, we agreed to create funny signs, where the two pictograms with man/woman were represented in the process of ” waiting impatiently”. A way to make our colleagues smile while opening the door!
Can you describe a typical office decoration project in Neomobile? Are you guided by one concept valid for all offices or are there also some local influences?
Annalisa: The typical flow for an office decoration project starts with the analysis of the planimetry. We need to take into consideration a lot of factors, from the light to the position of the employee desks. After that comes the real decoration project. We carefully choose the colors reflect our corporate culture, that’s why our offices are very colorful. Furthermore, local offices can choose through the preferable graphics we deliver through our blogs and social media channels, to decorate their spaces. In our offices worldwide you will find “homemade” posters, colored walls and a lot of Kanban boards with colorful post-its.
Riccardo: We always try to create a unitary identity, carefully merged with local influences. For example, our HQ in Rome was developed following the theme of superheroes and each meeting room has the name of a superhero or a group of superheroes. Our offices around the world choose their own superhero. In that way the offices have the common main theme, but with its own personality and meeting rooms with a unique new name and graphics. The same concept is applied to any type of creativity: starting from a “global” concept that can be adapted to local influences.
How important is the choice of colors, and what were your guiding principles when deciding on dominant colors for Neomobile’s offices?
Annalisa: The choice of colors is really important, since we use them mainly through wall paint. The one in front of desks is based on the position of windows and lights, since some of our colors are too bright. In our common areas our imagination was free, and we chose on different medium to convey the communication, from poster, to full paint walls, to graffiti or stickers that are very colorful.
Riccardo: Above all, the use of colors is related with its symbolism and its properties. Even if we can’t talk about color therapy, what we want to achieve through the colors is to create a path to a positive state of mind, by ensuring that the will, the courage and the confidence are alive through something as simple as the color. And if the Country Manager highlights the need of a particular challenge that wants to deal in his office, we try to agree on a dominant color. Otherwise we use our whole palette, so that the variety determines a broader sense of belonging by the taste of each employer.
In Neomobile’s HQ you decided to decorate the staircase walls and the “Comfort zone” with murals in graffiti. Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to use this unusual technique?
Annalisa: Last year Neomobile unveiled the new HQ. What surprised everyone the most, was the use of this unusual technique we used to decorate common areas. Our idea has been to bring something “external” into our world as an inspiration. It is usual for big tech companies to sponsor new talents or artists while collaborating with them. We did the same when we decided to work together with young and talented roman artist, Solo. Together we shaped the ideas behind our graffiti sketches. We proposed them to our Top Management that was delighted and followed us in this crazy project! People usually think about graffiti as an underground street art, something “against the law”. In Neomobile we think quite opposite, it was the perfect way to represent our dynamic way of work and life.
Riccardo: The choice of graffiti depended on an emotional factor. As graphic designers we were aware that the traditional graphics would put aside the illustrative elements to give more space to the technical/informative ones. Since this type of graphic is still widespread in our HQ, we thought it was important to give space to imagination and to something creative that would go beyond a business message, trying to spread a more emotional one. That’s why, for example, one of the walls shows a ship with a crew on board that follows a constellation representing our logotype (a cell phone). We do not build ships and none of us is a sailor, but walking every day in front of the graffiti we grasp a great motivational message behind the artwork. And this would have been possible only through a disruptive, creative art technique as graffiti.
What does work space innovation mean for you?
Annalisa: Today’s work spaces are all about motivation, understanding employee needs on a psychological and emotional levels. It’s not only a question of the perfect desk or the perfect chair. The innovation is to create a comfortable environment where talents stir up creativity and new ideas. We tried it on our skin, when we moved from our old office to the new HQ, our productivity grew up, we feel at home, we share our ideas in better and qualitative way, and this became possible only when the barriers fell down.
Riccardo: I agree with Annalisa. It is a very dynamic field, I find that in the future the wayfinding and signage design will be based on virtual artwork, through monitors or other types of display. This will allow easier and immediate update of office decoration according to the needs of the company and its people.
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