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The Office of the Future? Programmers, Computers, and a Wrapped in a Forest

Article April 3, 2019  |  Text by Markéta Miková Text by Markéta Miková

Architect Pavel Kříž created offices for Petr Rokůsek’s companies that won awards in both domestic competitions that assess the interiors of working spaces. When you ride up to the sixth floor of the new DRN building on Národní třída in the center of Prague, you’re entering a forest, where the businessmen and programmers of Nano Energies are hard at work.

Like every other city in the hemisphere, Prague too is on the brink of spring. The first daffodils and crocuses are blooming on the terraces of the DRN office building downtown. But nature has also found a home in the offices’ interior. At least on the sixth floor, where Nano Energies has its headquarters. For 11 years, this company has been trading in green electricity and supporting environmentally friendly energy, electromobility, and local energy independence.

Even your first steps after entering the Nano Energies headquarters will convince you that nature is just as important in here as the employees are, and you’ll see powerful computers monitoring energy prices all across Europe. Islands of lush green mix with unusual wooden tables and glass walls that delimit the spaces for the individual teams and meeting rooms. At the center of the company stands a living tree, and you’ll find moss – for example in the shape of a scraggy green heart – applied to the wood-lined walls.

This year, the Nano Energies offices were award-winners in the Meeting Room of the Year competition (in the Offices for Future Challenges category) and the Office of the Year competition (in the Office for the 21st Century category). This interior arose from cooperation between the architect Pavel Kříž from Studio Komplits and Petr Rokůsek, the founder of Nano Energies.  

What was the main assignment when planning these offices?

Petr Rokůsek, Nano Energies: We have three firms in the energy business, but each of them has a different focus. One team trades in spot electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the second sells green electricity to end users in the Czech Republic, and the third deals with flexible utilization of power grid capacity and turns alternative energy sources on and off. Each of these three firms has a different growth dynamic, and different kinds of personalities work in them. I wanted our new offices to interconnect them.

Pavel Kříž, Komplits: Petr has a clear conception on the philosophy for his firms, and he wanted us to imprint it into the interior of the new offices. We had to respect how they worked while also respecting the space in this exceptional building, and interconnect it all so it would fit together naturally.

Can you be more specific?

Pavel Kříž, Komplits: When you step into the Nano Energies offices, you’re also stepping into a forest. The tree isn’t abstract; it’s real and living. The nature here draws you in. We used rounded corners and organic shapes that symbolize life. We then incorporated the individual requirements of individual teams into this environment, while also trying to interconnect them – so that people can see each other and can meet each other in the middle of the offices or at the kitchenette.

How is the tree doing? The one that dominates the heart of your offices?

Petr Rokůsek, Nano Energies: The tree is in the section where traders monitor developments on European markets for spot electricity and trade in it 24/7. For me personally, the tree guarantees a certain “force” harmonization of their work environment, because each of them has several monitors that are constantly displaying a variety of graphs. When you consider that the tree has plenty of light and regularly receives nutrient-filled water, it’s doing well at our place. In half a year it’s grown by 2.5 cm, and it’s always sprouting green leaves.

How expensive was it to furnish such an untraditional office interior?

Petr Rokůsek, Nano Energies: We had all of the furniture made to order by Czech companies, and we used exclusively materials from local sources. And yet despite this, our costs for furnishings were the same as if we’d split up the office using standard plasterboard partitions and filled the semi open space with brand-name furniture from the top of the medium price range. We reached an agreement with our shareholders: for the money that we’d set aside for fit-out, we’d create a lavish, high-quality interior that supports us and our business.

And expert juries in the Office of the Year and Meeting Room of the Year competitions supported you too. What do these awards mean for you?

Petr Rokůsek, Nano Energies: We’re getting attention. The media and individuals are taking an interest in what we do, how we work, and what kind of offices we have, which pleases us, of course. Hiring is another aspect. We employ mainly young people – traders and programmers. In February 2019, that is, a month after our victories, the number of people interested in employment at our company rose by about a third, and many of the candidates mentioned that it was precisely our vision of sustainable business and our offices that spoke to them.