Daimler’s Innolab in Überseestadt provides 350 square metres of experimental space for the automotive manufacturer. Here, seven PhD students are working on the automotive challenges of the future.
Playroom or workspace? It can be difficult to tell with Innolab’s ‘thinking room’, which is dominated by a huge wooden construction that looks like a cross between a bunk bed and a cave. Beside it are small tents made of pillows and blankets, and comfortable benches for relaxing on. Is this still a place for working in? “Absolutely,” says Christo Papanouskas, owner of Assassin Design and external advisor to Innolab. “The space we find ourselves in affects the way we think. We have to get away from the desk if we want to be creative.”
Silicon Valley is very much the role model here. For years, Google, Amazon et al have provided spaces where their employees can engage in creative thinking away from the distractions of their inbox and telephone. Innolab is picking up on this idea and developing it further: “We designed all the fixtures and fittings ourselves to exactly match our requirements,” he says.
Managing companies democratically is a feature of the new workplace
The young entrepreneur knows what he is talking about. His agency, Assassin Design, advises start-ups and medium-sized businesses on matters such as innovation, change management, strategies and business models. His 21 employees enjoy considerable freedom to influence how they work, and he runs his business as a democracy – everyone has a say in the direction it takes.