Prague – In the past 20 years, society has seen three eras of innovative digital products – experimentation, digitalization, transformation. As offices began to develop digitally in the latter half of the 20th century, evolving irreversibly with the introduction of the internet, a whole new world of work was unleashed. So now, in our hyper-digital present – chances are you’re reading this from your mobile phone – we’re in the transformative era, a curve that Hamburg-based pointedly aspires to stay ahead of.
In a competitive market, doing that depends on establishing infrastructures that allow employees to succeed. SinnerSchrader was established over 20 years ago, at the height of the WWW excitement which saw companies rushing to take their business to the next level online. Today, the company has grown to over 500 employees dispersed among five different offices – acquired by Dutch global management consulting firm in 2017, their revenue totaled at nearly 57 million euros in the 2016-17 fiscal year. But, with this kind of growth, especially in a digital industry that is changing by the second, how do you continue to set your team up for success?
The office is a good place to start. The Czech architecture practice took the reins for SinnerSchrader’s Prague offices, taking an industrial building and making it new again. East of the Vitava river, the area used to be comprised of many old buildings and apartments but has undergone gentrification and become home to a variety of companies. For the Sinnerschrader space, the company and architects wanted to mesh ideas of interior and digital architecture to create an efficiently designed space for 60 workers.
In the transparent workspace, it was essential that the studio provide structure for individual teams without perpetuating company hierarchies. The translucent meeting cubes, large kitchen space and focus areas percolate informal exchange. A range of materials, from Marmoleum to wooden plywood and a combination of old and new Czech furniture check ‘tactile diversity’ off the engagement to-do list.
Many companies are focusing on implementing these human-centric structures within their office spaces – but unlike SinnerSchrader’s Prague office, they can’t say they have a skate park in their office. Within the studio, the main corridor is fashioned as a diagonal axis, one that opens up all of the elements of the space in a skate-able route. Employees can cruise along from the main entrance to the open terrace or stop and chat with a colleague along the way. Their strategy takes the idea that better office chairs will make it easier to connect within the workspace to the next level – there’s still rolling involved here, but this way is markedly more interesting.
In the history of offices, it’s hard to imagine that there has ever been one that could prompt you to imagine yourself as Tony Hawk doing something as mundane as making copies. But isn’t this what we need, anyway – a little play to get through the day? This is a design tactic you’d expect in a start-up space in San Francisco, not one of a well-established company that had a revenue of nearly 57 million euros in the 2016-17 fiscal year, but that’s the fun in it. After all, following suit just might lighten the mood in a way we previously thought only the strongest Arabica could do.