In- and External balance at Sabic Europe


SABIC is a multinational petrochemical company that aims to be Europe’s market leader in chemicals and intermediates by 2010. In early September 2008, it opened a brand-new head office in Sittard-Geleen. Veldhoen + Company guided SABIC through the transition from Smart Building to Smart Working.

A new office for Sabic Europe

In 2002, chemicals giant DSM sold off its petrochemical activities to SABIC. At virtually the same moment, the SABIC organisation indicated that it wanted to establish its own offices for all its European employees. It wanted a striking building, a landmark for the surroundings –  a place that would bear witness to its unique, cutting-edge approach, with interior and exterior in perfect balance. Veldhoen + Company’s strength is that it doesn’t look solely at the working environment, but also scrutinise and materialise the “resource side”.

Setting up a Working Environment

We look at the whole picture: working environment, ICT structure, information supply, employee skills and facilitatory processes. Our reasoning is based on a strategic concept and then supported by the necessary tools and resources. In this project, we also took on the responsibility for developing and implementing the interior design, the architecture and the building systems. Making us responsible for both consultancy and execution means that the customer avoids coordination losses and ensures a quality outcome which is financially efficient – a distinct advantage. Another plus is the guaranteed financial feasibility. Besides that, Veldhoen + Company’s expertise ensures execution of the desired quality.

The right physical, virtual and behavioral enviroment

Veldhoen + Company was involved in selecting the architects for the project so had the opportunity to influence the building’s structure making sure it met the specific demands of the New Way of Working. Once the integrated concept for the physical, virtual and behavioural environments had been developed, Veldhoen + Company introduced the New Way of Working in an aesthetically unique physical environment, working interactively with SABIC and the interior architect. The details of the spectacular outer shell were echoed in the interior design. Furnishings were created specifically for the client, in consultation with SABIC and the manufacturer. This custom approach resulted in a tranquil yet inspiring environment that is highly conducive to the company’s way of working.

A virtual workplace evolution

SABIC has taken a unique approach the way it uses audiovisual equipment with ICT integration. Almost every room has a TFT screen, a beamer and other equipment. In addition to this, the audiovisual devices are linked together through the ICT infrastructure. That means that the intranet can be accessed on all AV devices throughout the building. By interlinking the virtual and physical environments as closely as possible in this way, we’ve found an optimal solution that matches the concept envisaged by SABIC. Indeed, we’ve taken it a step beyond: SABIC can also provide information to its visitors via the same medium.

SABIC realised that it was building this concept for future generations

Veldhoen + Company showed the employees who will be working here why changes were necessary. We explained our line of reasoning to them and provided workshops and training to prepare them as well as possible for the New Way of Working. Much of the training consisted of consciousness-raising exercises. What is going to happen? How will it affect my work? What’s my role in all this? By discussing these issues with them, we elicited questions like: What adjustments do I need to make? Am I capable of that? Who will help me? Veldhoen + Company facilitated the discussion, but it was the employees themselves who decided how they were going to apply the New Way of Working.

From the heart of the organisation

There was the occasional sceptic, but the main feeling was one of enthusiasm. In the beginning, we toured the department heads and explained our ideas to them. It quickly became clear that the will to change was undeniably there. Veldhoen + Company guided and supported the change, but all in all it came from the only place that it should come from: from inside – from the heart of the organisation.

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For more about this project please contact Louis Lhoest

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