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!

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