The Health-Minded Approach to PwC Switzerland’s Bright New Workspace

The design of their Basel offices centers on the well-being of employees.

Reception. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

The design of PwC’s new Basel offices centers on the well-being of its employees. And its various workspaces and leisure areas reflect this focus on wellness, with everything from mini and large breakout areas called “think tanks” to a gorgeous coffee point — and napping pods, where employees are encouraged to take a power nap. Even its color palette seems to clear away stress and make room for high energy: Ash floors contrast with gleaming white walls and graphite accent walls, while bright pops of warm colors, from the office upholstery to workstations to graphics, electrify the workspace.

“The work environment is built around the four key pillars of health: activity, attitude, rest and nutrition, according to Evolution Design, which masterminded the project. “This enables a healthy and motivating collaboration, and fosters a high degree of effectiveness, creativity and innovation.”

Employees gather at a coffee point. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

What is the address of the project?

PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, St. Jakobs-Strasse 25, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

Who was the building architect?

The building dates back to the 1950s and was renovated to its original glory.

Who was the interior architect/designer?

An Evolution Design team, including Stefan Camenzind, Tanya Ruegg, Carolin Michalka, Natalia Maciejowska, Nicole Gögel, and Mark Pinter.

When was the project completed?

July 2016

A client meeting room. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

What is the total square footage?

43,050 square feet

What is the square footage per person?

330 people share 154 workstations, so there’s 139 square feet per person and 300 square feet per desk.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

There are 330 total people, and the office has a daily population of around 150.

Quiet workspace. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

What is the location’s proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

The office is just three minutes, by foot, to the tram station, 10 minutes by foot to the train station, and just a quick five-minute walk to various grocery stores and convenience shops.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

The office showcases a fine selection and combination of many different pieces of furniture from many different brands — creating a very unique look for PwC.

Coffee point. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy or are most of the employees there all day every day?

Employees can work from home if they wish to do so, but it was the client’s wish to create an office which is super attractive and the best possible place to work from, so that employees would always choose to work from the office, thus increasing collaboration and communication.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

All spaces are unassigned, so the employees can choose which space is best suited for their tasks.

A “think tank”. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

The company’s brand is reflected in a multitude of ways, namely by using color and communication tools, including photography and graphic design, to ensure that the office is an inspiring three-dimensional representation of the culture, attitude, and mindset of PwC Switzerland. For example, each meeting room’s name, design and graphic represents one of the core values of PwC.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

This is one of the first offices in Switzerland which is fully designed around the four key pillars of health: activity, attitude, rest and nutrition, altogether significantly improving well-being, energy levels, and productivity.

A power nap lounge. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

If the company moved out of a previous space, what was the hardest aspect of change for people?

The hardest change was certainly to move from assigned desks in enclosed offices to a very agile activity-based working environment. And that’s why we facilitated a lot of change workshops with the employees, so that we could support them in this new way of working.

Please share any illuminating, surprising, or hoped-for results you might have gleaned from post-occupancy surveys.

In our efforts to create a super healthy work environment, we have also introduced Nap Pods, which encourage employees to take a power nap during the day. But this is still quite a new concept for many companies, and we’ve found that employees still need further education to understand that taking a nap during work can actually enhance their performance at work.

Events and presentation space. Photo by Peter Wurmli.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

PwC wanted well-being to be its primary focus, so the office was built around four key pillars of health: activity, attitude, rest, and nutrition. The design of this workspace is not only innovative, but that it also significantly improves health, energy levels and productivity.

In fact, the office space offers a wide choice of working areas — Focus Space, Quiet Zone, and Team Space — and employees are free to choose the kind of work environment that best suits their mood and tasks at any given time. Along with ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks, energy pods for power-napping, massage chairs and health snacks, the empowerment of people on a multitude of levels proves to be the most effective way to successfully manage stress levels and increase energy levels.

This project’s recipe for success lays therefore in the uniquely subtle blend of planning, creativity, and humanity, and thus is an excellent example of working one’s way to well-being, challenging the status quo of common workplace projects.

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