In the spirit of the upcoming holidays I found it interesting to write about our latest fieldtrip with the project group. During the Christmas period everybody is excited about getting together with family and friends and is enjoying each other’s company. But is it possible to bring this positive atmosphere of the holidays to the work floor?
In our project we’re trying to find a way to improve employee happiness. So far we have found out that the biggest issues for employees are a working environment to which they cannot relate, social relations at work that go wrong and the company culture that doesn’t fit.
On a recent event in Brussels we crossed a man called Kristof Marres. He works as a “warrior” for Tribes and he was interested in our master’s project. He explained us that Tribes was a company that offers his customers a place to work together with people from other companies, a so called co-working space. Because this co-working environment changes the working environment and promotes intercompany social relations we had a nice talk with the man and he invited us to come and visit Tribes in Eindhoven because that’s where the first Tribes co-working space is located.
So on the first of December we took the bus to Eindhoven and were introduced to the amazing world of co-working. We came to the building and on the outside it didn’t look different like any of the other buildings in the industrial park, however upon entering the place we got stunned by the interior. We got greeted at the bar by a secretary who is the first point of contact for every customer of every company housed in the building. What struck us to be unusual was that the lady was standing up straight behind a bar instead of sitting down behind a desk. This is giving the first impression of the building a much more dynamic feeling and this dynamism is being shown throughout the whole building.
Kristof came down and invited us to have a drink at the bar and gave us some overall information about the place and the company. He explained us that they are not another boring co-working place but they really want to create a 5-star environment in which people can find rest and an inspiring workplace. The reason they called the company Tribes is because they designed the interior of every building they have with respect to the traditions of the 34 remaining indigenous tribes of the world. In Eindhoven the tribe they used is the Masai. They used the traditional colours, the materials and the environments in which the Masai traditionally live and they gave these an update. The best example of this modern way to use the tribes traditions is a central meeting place which can be found in every building. It’s a circle in which 12 people can be seated. The goal of these circles is to invite a key note speaker around whom people who are interested can gather. The people inside of the circle represent the chiefs of the tribe who are discussing important matters and traditionally the persons who are interested in what the chiefs have to say are eavesdropping on the outside of the tent. They didn’t close this circle so that people who want to listen or don’t want to participate in the ongoing discussion can still follow what is being said.
After the explanation about the building Kristof took us on a tour around the building and showed us what the 5-star service was all about. He told us that there are different types of subscription models to use the building and all of them gave you access to different places. The starter subscription gives you access to the open office environment / library of the building. These places are fully equipped with wifi, printers/scanner, coffee, wireless charging,… For the companies that want more, Tribes offers them congress rooms they can rent. They have the choice between the typical big 40+ people rooms or a smaller 12 people room. The difference between these is that the smaller room is a room designed to inspire and to increase creativity. Just having a look at the table which is a custom made table they cut out of a tree they got in Kenia, the home country of the Masai. Because they are a chain of co-working places, they give their customers the possibility to switch between the locations.
Knowing that the open office environment is a good place for creativity and open communication, Tribes realised that companies also need a place in which they can get some hard work done. Therefore they also offer packages in which a company gets a private office. The entire second floor of the building is converted in the traditional working environment with separate offices.
But the craziest package they offer is a package which includes a trip to space. One of the main investors of Tribes also happens to be an investor and leading man in one of the biggest companies that are trying to send regular people into space. This can count when it comes to diversification and innovation!
But the 5 star service goes further than purely these packages. In the building they offer a lot of extra services too. There’s the possibility to get your clothes dry cleaned, private online orders can be delivered to the building,… In the gym you can go for a “fit in 20 minutes per week” deal and after the work-out it is possible to have lunch in the restaurant which also offers a lot of space to the flex workers to get their work done.
Before going back home by train again a quick stop at the restroom was needed and there written on the wall was a motivational quote that really represents the mindset of Tribes as a company:
I would like to thank Kristof and Tribes for having us over. It was an inspiring trip and nice learning experience.