In 2021, all of the New Work SE teams based in Hamburg were to be relocated from various offices to a single new office located in the Hamburg "Hafen City". I was asked to join the project team in order to help define the branding of the new office.
Role: Strategy, Art & Design Direction
Initially, our project stream was tasked with incorporating harbour-inspired elements as well as elements from our master brand's visual identity into the design of our office, the New Work Harbour. But, in early 2021, the pandemic was forcing everyone to work from home and get used to it. We believed that it was now more important than ever to inspire enthusiasm about the new office among employees across all of our branches. Simply emphasising harbour motifs and our visual identity would not be enough. This required a real contribution to improve their work-life.
With that ambition in mind, we set ourselves to involve and understand our employees as well as experts on the topic transformation of work and workplaces. Our research included analysing published press and studies, as well as 15 in-depth interviews with employees, 5 interviews with experts, and an extensive internal survey that received 419 replies from our employees.
This helped us understand that people are seeking a working environment that is harmonious, inspiring, and flexible, a place where they feel alive, independent, and motivated to create. The core idea of flexibility, combined with the idea of the office as a brand experience (rather than just colours and visuals) became the conceptual idea for the project – the new office needed to reflect our brand not in the way it looks, but mostly in the way it feels.
From Brand Values to Experience Principles: After conducting research and settling on a key insight, our first step was to develop a strategic framework that answers the question: if New Work SE were an office, how would it feel? We defined 5 experience principles based on what our 5 brand values would mean in the context of an office, and assigned to them distinct areas, with distinct use-cases. This framework acted as a foundation to the following exploration.
Signage: The name "Harbour" in New Work Harbour comes from our office's location near the river. And even though our business is not related to harbour activities, we wanted to incorporate some sort of maritime inspiration in the form of subtle references. We did so by referring to the shape and texture of containers in our signage system, and by using colour and gigantic ocean textures to identity the different areas of the office.
A reflection of New Work: Although the new office has normal areas furnished with regular working stations, it also offers employees the needed freedom to work how they work best. Whether they prefer to work independently, collaborate with others, listen to music, or work in silence, the office adapts to them, even for an after work beer at the office pub.
From the Page, to Office Inspiration, the new office design was extensively covered by media (20 online articles, 6 printed articles, 2 times on TV), with some stating that it might just be the "office of the future". Also, in addition to the internal buzz, externally there was a lot of interest in experiencing the office, so since the opening we have been conducting weekly tours of the office for companies interested.