The Challenge

An industry leader in information technology services, NTT specialises in optimising workspaces through the integration of digital solutions. As they prepared to move their Swiss headquarters to the Oassis neighbourhood in Crissier, they took the opportunity to develop a space that would be home not just to the country’s team but also to the organisation’s European upper management, including the CEO.

With the ultimate goal of repositioning NTT from a tech-centred brand to a human-transformation focused company, we were entrusted with the design of a space that honored the client’s core proposition of the digital workplace. Our design also needed to welcome and catalyse new collaborations with outside partners and between the local and European teams.

Another challenge was to create a solution that was as adaptive as the tech sector itself. That meant we conceived the space in such a way that it could support the organisation in its ambition to grow and attract top talent, break barriers to activate collaboration, and improve synergy with external project partners. This required a deep understanding of their work practices in order to create a space that flowed in the same way as their workflow.

The Outcome

We created for NTT a workspace that strikes a balance between technology and humanness, prioritising both innovation and wellbeing. Designed as an environment that understands and respects workflow, their new workplace can support multiple work speeds depending on user needs, making it easier to break silos and accelerate collaboration while also preserving concentration and focus areas.

This purpose-driven environment, as well as the emphasis on natural light, movement, and social spaces, were conceptualised with a strong focus on wellbeing. It was very important to NTT that this value be communicated through the space and notably felt in the everyday lives of their workforce.

Activating synergy between the Swiss and European teams so they can build on each others’ knowledge, the space’s applied technological immersion communicates the company’s core proposition and creates a welcoming experience to the digital workplace and the opportunities that it presents.

Discovery

Accelerating collaboration in the digital workforce

Our discovery process and conversations with stakeholders allowed us to identify a number of key drivers that, at their core, all served the single vision: a human-centred digital workplace.

This would need to be implemented by integrating technology and architecture in an authentic and meaningful way, both for the benefit of staff and clients, and also by using space as a catalysing force in breaking institutional silos.

No human after all, let me welcome you

The relationship NTT has with its clients, collaborators, and employees is defined by a spirit of partnership and the possibilities produced by the digital workplace. For that reason, it was essential to craft a welcoming experience representative of those values and the way that humans and technology work and build together.

To make this clear from the second someone arrives at Oassis, we identified moments during the hosting experience where this relationship between building and storytelling would be especially powerful. From the distinctive metallic curtain behind the reception to the personalised digital receptionist if no human is around, visitors are able to instantly understand not just where they are but what the company represents.

Always in motion

Our analysis of the space and NTT’s workflow helped us discover ways to make movement intuitive through the implementation of a system of circular wayfinding that would allow users to pick meeting points that best fit their needs. Placing collaborative spaces away from but close to the desk areas helped to reinforce focus spaces and also built transversal movement into everyday life. Beyond benefiting wellbeing, this also helped to normalise more informal interactions, adding another layer to the culture of collaboration.

Ideation and Design

Two-speed environment

Following our analysis of NTT’s working patterns, we conceptualised a design to reflect and accommodate diverse working habits. Moving from the core of the space and building outwards, our purpose focused environments allow distinct styles and speeds of work to coexist together while still enjoying a clear separation. These collaborative and focus-driven areas allow work to flow naturally while still respecting their appropriate and respective use cases. The resulting space catalyses collaboration and internal movement without sacrificing privacy, focus areas, or space.

The rhino in the room

An important key driver of the project was how we could create a sense of community through visual storytelling and transparency, not just for employees but also for visitors and partners. A mural representing the whole value chain of the organisation was designed and installed, running along the entire main circulation that connects all teams.

For visitors who don’t spend much time in the working area, the cafeteria offers an honest view into the company’s mission and the pride that they take in their identity. The social space not only hosts informal work and town hall sessions but also has a direct view into a glass panelled lab, where their hardware integration team assembles servers and racks in plain sight. Furthermore, in a nod to the company’s effort to use big data to support wildlife preservation in South Africa, a life-size rhino graffitied by artistic duo NEVERCREW, surrounded by mechanical arms, reiterates their positioning as a company that values technology in the service of life.

Active collaboration spaces

Our analysis and understanding of employee work patterns inspired us to break up large meeting rooms in order to support the smaller type of gatherings they more frequently have, helping to optimise the use of the space and encourage agility. Colourful collaboration rooms near work areas were given playful and energising identities, with their structured informality and interactive technology making them ideal for fast-paced brainstorming and planning sessions.

A more positive and collaborative play on the traditional “war room”, the Peace Room integrates telepresence media within a calm atmosphere. To complement the workspace’s offerings, a range of phone booths and one2one niches allow collaborators to swiftly, and without hassle, jump from concentration to conversation mode.

Welcoming and partnership

A successfully designed welcoming experience is not just about the initial greeting but also about making people feel comfortable and honoured in the space. Given the large number of meetings NTT staff hold with external partners, suppliers and clients, we identified the need to create a bespoke experience for visitors.

The Client Suite located on the ground floor, set apart from the work areas, offers discretion and comfort along with an added level of formality that’s appropriate for the meetings that take place there. With state of the art technology on display, like Webex Boards from their Cisco product partnership, the space is a meeting hub where NTT’s vision of the digital workplace is clearly communicated.

Wayfinding

The role signage and typography play in guiding visitors, staff, and company culture in this project should not be underestimated. We immediately understood that wayfinding presented an opportunity to further infuse NTT’s personality into their physical environment.

Thoughtful details, like meeting spaces named after pioneers in the history of computation, reinforce larger values and reflect the relationship between people and technology, which is a cornerstone of the company’s philosophy. Balancing utility and personality, signage also extends to spatial interventions such as the whimsical pathways applied to the floor of the open air bridges that connect different spaces and that also act as break out areas.

Other elements like the choice of PX Grotesk typeface, styled after computer code and always used in the same size and weight, create a subtle graphic system that reinforces these larger messages throughout the space.

Conclusion

Technology is constantly and rapidly evolving, and to remain competitive companies like NTT must showcase their cutting edge products as well as demonstrate their deep understanding of how these tools relate to the contemporary workforce. By communicating the relationship between humanness and technology throughout their new workspace, we enhanced their ability to present these strengths, not only in terms of selling their products to clients but also in improving engagement, wellbeing, and retention among their employees.

Through a close partnership with NTT, Studio Banana was able to develop an infrastructure and workspace that serves as a catalyst to their internal culture, breaking silos and creating authentic touchpoints, opportunities for collaboration, and a smoother workflow.

* Photography: Rubén P. Bescos for STUDIO BANANA.