A global, mobile, collaborative business model

The creative use of space in the building has nurtured a new work culture. Desks are not assigned which brings people closer together, as Property Manager Nataschja Zaal explains. “People communicate more regularly and more informally, which adds to productivity and innovation.” 

With an estimated 80 per cent of work completed in a collaborative manner, it was vital that the office design featured a flexible working area with spaces to accommodate everything from conference-style meetings to more casual, intimate brainstorming sessions. The office includes private calling booths so employees don’t disturb their neighbours when on the telephone, glass-encased ‘concentration cubicles’ for intense collaboration and a café-cum-nightclub where you can pay using your mobile. There’s also a silent library, ‘media: scape’ spaces where documents and presentations can be projected and shared with ease and an informal employee lounge. Desk and chair heights are all fully adjustable and it goes without saying that the latest technology is integrated throughout the building.

Home to the marketing and sales departments of Vodafone Netherlands (with in the region of 500 employees), the office is a physical manifestation of the company’s sustainability policy. “Technology is taking over from paper,” says Zaal, “which of course as a mobile communications company, we gladly endorse. Everything in our Amsterdam headquarters enables us to work in a paperless way.” She continues: “We always inform visitors that we have a strict ‘green policy’. Parking a car is at their expense, because we encourage visitors and employees to come by public transport.”
Icon of sustainability 

The new office structure has also resulted in other cost reduction benefits, as Zaal points out. “We’ve reduced our real estate footprint because we no longer have to provide a rigid workplace for every employee. We have a ratio of 60 per cent, so we save 40 per cent on the square footage. Plus, highly advanced video conferencing facilities mean we save on both national and international travel costs.”

A symbolic icon of sustainability, a large Vodafone logo made from moss is mounted on the wall, absorbing CO2 and monitoring the office climate. ‘Just like in the past in coal mines with the bird in a cage,” says Zaal. “We endorse the cradle to cradle cycle, which means that, for example, our desks, chairs and carpet in this building can be used, recycled and used again without losing any material quality.”

Nourishing startups in Amsterdam

The building’s sixth floor is reserved for an especially innovative purpose: Startupbootcamp, an accelerator for global startups in which Vodafone is a shareholder. “Vodafone’s innovation strategy is based upon open innovation in which co-operating with startups is an important part,” says Zaal. “The initiative connects us with the Amsterdam ICT community and supports Vodafone’s positioning as a playful and connected brand, encouraging interaction between Vodafone employees and startups to co-develop propositions.”

Startupbootcamp quickly became a success. “The programme is now in its second year. The 2012 class has been really successful. Between them, the ten startups have created 120 jobs in Amsterdam.” As companies around the world scramble to adapt to a more global, mobile and collaborative business model, Vodafone Netherlands is leading the way with a working space that enables the company to attract and retain top talent and ‘live the brand’ by showcasing Vodafone products and mobile work.

And according to Zaal, there’s only one downside to Vodafone’s innovative working spaces: “We have to bring sun cream to the office, because when we have a meeting on the roof terrace, we do tend to get burnt…”.

Read full testimonial here.