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The Cognizant Digital Studio – New Safe Design Foundation

To make Cognizant’s Digital Studio compatible with health and safety regulations during Covid19 and make it as welcoming to employees and customers alike I designed core values, principles and guidelines for a redesign of the space.

As the lead creative of the innovation practice I was the lead to help both the location director and office manager to redesign the space. I helped make sense of research of stakeholders (employees, the director, HR, legal and customers) and transform them to design guidelines.

Cognizants Digital Studio in the Kauwgomballenfabriek in Amsterdam is a place were Digital Consultancy, European client management and Customer Experience Design is housed. During the Covid 19 times, the studio had to be redesigned, so employees could return, feel safe and healthy and still have an interactive and creative space where they can entertain customers, partners and work on exiting innovative projects. Here is the narrative we created to guide people through our new studio concept.

DigitalStudio transformed

Digital Studio Transformed We believe in work and we take working very serious, but we also recognized that our offices is more than just a place to be. That’s why we took the lock down situation as inspiration and reimagined our office.

This change is triggered by one notion: things need more space now. So that’s just what we’re going to do: create space for the core experience of the office: being physically together. To make sure our office and idea is working we rearranged the setting and pivoted to a hospitality model, where your hosts empower you to stay healthy, productive and social.

Working at home, collaborate at the office

Our goal is to recognize the value to work at,or near home, but also to make sure intense, physical, or high fidelity collaborations are still worth the travel. No matter what: the office is still a big part of the hub of the creativity and culture of our company.

Because our space is limited we also needed to reevaluate other uses of our office. Some people needed a safe and quiet place to be alone, some just came here to call others and others still just needed the bandwidth to even reach people across the world.

Facilitated creativity clusters

What we introduced was the following: we created maximal collaboration clusters for little project teams that needed to crunch on a problem for a few hours a day and for a couple of days. A perfect setup for a minimum of two and maximum of four people.

Each of them look like a little popup project, including physical boards that are digitized into the cloud and a full complement of creative tools. Board, table and tools can be stowed away after you’re done in the board rack. Ready for the next team to install their board. No reservations, because we know things just need time.

To keep things safe, you’ll wear our speech optimized masks. So people can see you smile, talk and express yourself.

Committed to crack the big problems

We also got a more permanent version with more facilities to operate for a couple of weeks with a team up to 6 people. In addition you get a bigger room with more distance and your faces are pointed in a different direction. Also you get independent tools like a full A3 color printer, your own private network and we deliver treats.

Little spaces for little tasks

Of course sometimes you need to have that one important call. That’s why we installed the call wall. A place where you can reach out to the world for a maximum of an hour. You can call in peace and the rest can work.

Safe, social and digitally sublime

Because people also need to meet and talk to each other, we introduced the safe social hub. A place where you can talk with each other with each standing spot your very own airspace. The tables are automatically cleaned afterwards, and because they are whiteboards we also send the doodle or architecture drawing right to your conversation, ready to be continued online.

Local focus, freedom and fidelity

For the people that used to come to the office for bandwidth, connectivity and silence, we struck a deal with over 100 local office spaces that turned to the local popup seat model.

This way people can walk to their workplace, but also pop in and out to check up on the kids, walk the dogs of even do some groceries in the neighborhood.

The theory and culture behind work

We believe that our office should be used optimally and safely. We also believe that meant to focus on people and offer them options that make sense.

That’s why we created a work model based the organize-vs-collaborate sensibility. Organizing, making, creating takes at the least half a day of focused work. You do this alone, no distractions.

Collaborating is something you cannot do without other people and similarly takes time to ‘get in the mood’ it needs an inspirational and focused mindset and space where everybody feels empowered to collaborate.

What about huge teams and big meetups?

To facilitate ‘all hands’ meetings we opted for a very interactive online system, based on the experiences of live game streamers.

It’s facilitated, structured and very social indeed. We want people to be heard, but also to experience not only the talk, but also the information. Also we wanted to make sure the presenters get the same experience like they would have on stage.

We’re leaning here

Of course this is all new and we probably need to experience some down falls, but we believe in our core principles. With those principles in mind we are bound to get the majority right and improve any situation that exists now.