New Work? New look!
At cosmetics giant L’Oréal, everything revolves around beauty – and speed is of the essence. At the new company headquarters in Dusseldorf, employees can always find the right place to get their creative juices flowing when inspiration strikes
New shades every season, hundreds of patents every year, a global market with different target groups: the world of cosmetics is colorful, competitive and changing all the time. Those who want to keep up or be the driver of change must be agile and quick. Inventive and alert. L’Oréal, the largest cosmetics manufacturer in the world, has moved into its new German headquarters in Dusseldorf. Ease and mobility naturally become a part of the working style here.
On the northern edge of the city, in the sixteen-story J1 building, huge spaces have emerged. The floor-to-ceiling windows merge with open spaces dotted with clusters of desks; in the middle, there are cozy meeting areas with armchairs and stools; next to that are closed-off think tanks for team brainstorming sessions and discrete places for quiet time. In total, there are 950 workspaces for the employees and almost 900 alternative workspaces where they can perform their diverse tasks. And yet, there is not a single individual office. “Not even our boss has one,” says Sascha Gormanns, head of Campus Management and part of the team that developed the new office.
Everyone – employees and visitors alike – enjoys riding the elevator to the fifteenth floor and taking in the stunning view from the Sky Lounge. Sascha Gormanns also likes to hold meetings there. “In the past, there was always one employee behind his desk and another in front of it – I always felt uncomfortable,” he says. “Today, we meet at the armchairs.” His favorite one is Bao by Walter Knoll. “It’s cushy and, in my opinion, incredibly comfortable. Everyone takes to it right away.”
People at L’Oréal like to work at rotating workspaces. In the beginning, there were reservations about the new concept. But once the company moved in, everything fell into place. These sorts of ideas just have to be executed properly. Flexibility requires spaces for solitude and interiors that emanate respect while fostering concentration, communication and creativity. With enough space for chance encounters of all kinds, as it is often out of these that new things are born. The employees co-determined the design of the new office. They established work groups, conducted surveys. The furniture by Walter Knoll had a lot of fans, and even people’s different requests – modern or mid-century style? – could be granted. Both work; both go together.
Insofar as it was possible, the employees also worked flexibly in the old building. It was normal to leave the room to take a call, to have meetings at a restaurant – the desire to switch locations was there early on. Today, the employees intuitively choose from a wide spectrum of spaces and areas, from the coffee point to the phone booth. Staking out territories or blocking spaces by reserving them in advance – those things are simply not possible. Nor are they necessary, since there is space for everyone and everything.