Long-established business sectors are not served well by the stereotypes that build up around them over many years. The finance industry provides a perfect example.
Its often-fusty image, coupled with the suspicion that it is focussed primarily on money, does not reflect the modern face of a sector that is now more diverse than ever before, in both the people it employs and the way it approaches complex economic, social and environmental challenges.
Firms like the Center of Excellence in Finance are challenging the stereotypes of the sector, and not only in the way they present themselves, and the diverse people who work with them, but also in what they deliver.
Flexibility and talent development now go hand in hand. A well-thought-out flexible work policy can help expand workforce diversity, foster collaboration from an expanded talent pool, and enhance resiliency in meeting future crises.” PwC Remote Work Survey
Based in Ljubljana, CEF is a specialist training organisation for finance managers in the public sector across Southeast Europe. Central to their business model is the principle that people should not just learn about financial management as part of their jobs, but also the wider consequences of decisions for society, the economy and environment.
These are the values that CEF wanted to embody in the design of its offices in Ljubljana City Centre. In practice this meant working to a strict budget while also embodying the very best modern workplace principles of flexible working, agility and humane design.
“It’s vital that we work with partners who understand us and know how to put our identity and plans into practice,” says CEF Workplace Culture Facilitator, Cvetka Mozoli. “The ability of Kragelj to understand us and the fast-changing nature of our sector made the decision to appoint them to the project easy. The culture of an organisation and the way that is expressed through office design should resonate with everybody who works for us and with us.”
Cvetka shared her thoughts on her approach to workplace culture and design in an EU-funded interview.
“It’s vital that we work with partners who understand us and know how to put our identity and plans into practice.”
One of the first projects CEF discussed with Kragelj was the transformation of the entrance hall and reception area next to the lecture halls and meeting rooms of their main building.
“This space is the handshake of the organisation,” explains Cvetka Mozoli. “We only have one chance to make a first impression, so it is essential that the reception and entrance hall sets the scene for people. It has to express a new, progressive mindset and also provide people with places to relax and share information and ideas, including as a space for breakout workshops.”
Working to a managed budget, the Kragelj team worked closely with CEF to understand their needs and ambitions. Context was everything as the new space had to signal to people they were not dealing with a traditional organisation from the finance sector, but one that shared their goals and which was centred on flexibility and mentoring.
The analysis of the space led to the development of shared goals and draft designs. The implementation programme on the final concepts required sophisticated project management and quality control.
The result is a bright, open, airy and above all humane space that invites people to share it in the ways that suit them best. Its ability to adapt to their ever-changing needs is one of the most important characteristics of the design.
CEF were so delighted with the results from Kragelj that the project has now expanded to embrace the whole office.
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