A brand new 4100 sqm space, designed to convey great energy … suddenly left empty.
In our column dedicated to how workspaces were rethought during the pandemic, Betty Pagnin, P&C Director of OneDay Group, talks about the experience of the C30, the headquarters of one of the youngest and most dynamic companies in Milan, and the need for a new professional figure: the digital entertainer.
When it was inaugurated in February 2020 to address the need for a rapidly growing team, the C30, OneDay Group’s headquarters in Milan, was designed with all the best features of office design: a campus, designed by the same employees of the team, and image of the corporate culture. How did this space and the organization that lives in it react to the sudden coronavirus emergency? Betty Pagnin, People and Culture Director of One Day Group, answers us in this interview.
How did the original design of the C30 developed before 2020 come about?
“We relied on professionals who helped us divide the different areas, but we chose to involve the whole team for the content, asking all employees how they imagined their dream office. We then engaged our own creative team to turn ideas into reality, like in the design of custom furnishings and personalized walls. For example, the design of the entire “Sottosopra” floor is dedicated to the passions of our team members: there are sports areas, graffitis, a “mini-zoo club” totally dedicated to children, an agorà and a strategic room with a huge table with a map of Risiko. The rest of the office is then dedicated to travel, and each room is signed by someone from the team, to foster the empathy of employees with the office. We also have a guesthouse, with rooms each dedicated to a generation: 20s, 60s, 80s, 90s and inside we had also created a film club and a library”.
How was the workplace experienced during the pandemic?
This is a space that gives you great energy to the extent that you have 300 people and you organise different events. The centre is the cafeteria area at the entrance, a crossroads of new generations, the beating heart of this campus. In some moments, I must say, in the void, you could hear the echo of loneliness: the community is part of our DNA, its vibration was missing.
At this time, space is once again accessible, in compliance with the new conditions. Fortunately, it is very large space (4100 square meters) because it was born to allow a free movement, and this allows everyone to be able to frequent the workplace quite freely and using personal protective equipment, such as a mask. Beyond the pandemic, it was a workplace designed to be a modern space, it won’t need revolutions.
How have you adapted to the reality of the pandemic? What were the strengths and the most critical ones?
In general, our greatest strength was internal communication: communicating as much as possible and in the most transparent way possible, to the whole workgroup and to the related communities. Being used to dealing with crisis management, we have been ready and reactive. We worked to transform all documents in the cloud and, even when it was possible to return to the office, we focused on granting maximum freedom of decision and with maximum transparency. The goal was for everyone to feel safe and performing.
On the other hand, however, the difficulties arose from the fact that our community is heavily based on aspects of interaction and physical union. Although we were organized for a certain percentage of remote work, full remote was not expected. It took us a while to find a new rhythm. Furthermore, a further difficulty depended on the fact that this situation was a real blow for our core business. Thus, we had to reinvent our work.
What was a significant experience of these hybrid ways of working?
At Christmas, we had a snack to make us best wishes: half of the team was physically present, the other half was remotely connected. An experience that is not trivial, because the team lives two different experiences at the same time. The debrief is that we can do better: above all, there was a lack of interaction, because basically there was no space for sharing, despite the fact that there was an employee with the camera with the task of trying to involved who was remotely connected.
I believe that hybrid work leads to the need for a new integration, and to the emergence of new professionals such as a person entirely dedicated to managing the interaction of the team, a sort of “digital entertainer”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Picture and video for courtesy of OneDay Group.