Interview with Carola Hop

by Fleming. Team

Read the interview with Carola Hop, Senior Workplace Strategy Expert, NN Group-ING Group, Netherlands

1. Short on budget - how to overcome workspace design challenges wisely?

At NN have we definitely learned how to be creative with tight budgets. We first decided if our basic office fit-out could be done in a smarter way. For instance we kept the existing desk frames of our workstations, and replaced only the tabletops. By changing their shape, they are now much more space-efficient. And the new color fits in very well. By updating and reusing our existing furniture, we could allocate more budget to informal meeting areas. We used to think of those spaces as nice-to-haves, but learned they are equally important to people’s wellbeing.

2. How important is workspace design in cultural transformation?

In our organization workspace design is not the driver of cultural transformation, rather it is the icing on the cake. The success of our NN Way of Working (NNWW) program lies in training people first, before moving them to their new work environment. By guiding people’s behavior we learned that quantitative benefits are realized more quickly and with less resistance. This is particularly noticeable with respect to the workplace. Teams that have already mastered the new ways of working quite easily take the step towards more challenging desk sharing ratios. In other teams it is necessary to create a shortage in workstations in order to initiate and realize change. The majority of our employees say that the design of their new workspace supports the behavioral change.

3. What is the most inspiring workspace you have ever worked in / you have ever designed / you would love to design in the future?

I used to work at a design agency that was located in a converted church, right in the middle of Amsterdam. Apart from its excellent location on one of the famous canals, the atmosphere of the space was amazing. They had done a fantastic job in creating open plan work areas, visually divided by rows of filing cabinets. In the raised meeting rooms, guests had a spectacular view on the entire space. And the huge kitchen table could seat all 25 staff. I found it very inspiring to work in this light-filled and efficient, yet cozy office. Of course, there were challenges with regards to climate control and acoustics. But these were minor issues compared to the joy of working in such an unusual space!

Interested in this topic?

More articles


To be, or not to be, local-plus

A successful compensation strategy involves keeping expatriates motivated while maintaining a competitive advantage by achieving a company’s corporate goals and budgets. While in theory this seems achievable, in practice there are many challenges with expatriate compensation that cause problems for companies. Many are in a battle to win external talent, and to retain internal talent. At the same time, cost pressures to reduce the expense of international assignments is increasing. The balance-sheet approach is expensive relative to the fact that a very small proportion of a company’s overall total employee workforce (e.g., perhaps 5 percent of employees in total) may be incurring 60 or 70 percent of total salary costs. Not surprisingly, for many years this was a major reason why expatriates agreed to go. There is also the tax equalization expense when assignees relocate from low tax to high tax countries.


Global mobility – a competitive advantage for international business

Despite the stop/start nature of the global economic recovery, one thing that is perennially on the agenda of CEOs and HR leaders is the war for talent. McKinsey in their latest Quarterly Review (1) suggest that ‘progress towards globalisation’s new era will be uneven for economies and companies alike’. Knowledge in the new intangible assets world will certainly mean power. In the digital global age there will inevitably be a demand for new breeds of talent – emanating from both emerged and emerging countries.


All change? Global mobility’s role towards 2020

In this White Paper Santa Fe assess the on-going debate about the role of global mobility within organisations; should they aim to be more strategic, and if so how should they go about doing so? We draw from both the RES Forum Annual Report 2015 and Santa Fe Global Mobility Survey 2014 and 2015 and in addition, other industry research and sources as well as academic research.