The international IT firm NEORIS, or more precisely its Prague branch, prevailed in the Office for Future Challenges category of last year’s Meeting Room of the Year awards. So — what do their work spaces look like? And how do they work within NEORIS’ daily operations?
NEORIS has its roots in Latin America, where it was founded as the IT division of CEMEX, a leading manufacturer of construction materials. The plan was for NEORIS to develop internal software for effective distribution of building materials, but that was just the beginning — now they develop similar digital solutions for their numerous clients. Today the company is headquartered in Miami, and a year ago it founded its Digital Lab in Prague as well.
A total of 140 people from 40 nations are working on the two floors of their Smíchov Gate building in Prague’s Anděl district. English wins out in the linguistic Babylon of these offices, but Angular, .NET and SQL Server. Meanwhile, although the company culture is international, there’s still a South American feel in the air. Their many American, Mexican, and Argentinian expats ensure this. The marketing head Filip Vasić says that they’ve infected their other colleagues with an interest in the Spanish language, Latin American dance, and definitely a joy in life.
The NEORIS offices are simple, well-arranged, furnished for comfort, and above all, flexible. The company’s own functioning is fully reflected in them: NEORIS must be able to react quickly to its project’s needs—and thus the future.
This global IT firm’s work spaces can be classified into three main parts:
- individual seats, grouped into teams by focus (programmers, designers, testers, etc.)
- scattered among these, you’ll find islands with either comfortable couches or high tables with barstools that are used for the teams’ quick SCRUM meetings
- and a third of the space is used by various meeting rooms. They are fully reconfigurable and can be variously joined or partitioned. Going there, your eyes would be drawn to the panoply of plasma screens that let NEORIS teleconference with branches in India and America, the projection screens the size of small movie screens, and the boards that typically occupy one of a room’s walls and are filled with diagrams and code.
Touch the Future
Walking through the halls of NEORIS, you’ll feel a great concentration. People are immersed in their work; they say a few words here or there, or quickly come together for a five-minute meeting and then sit back down at their computers.
During my visit, an all-day internal Design Thinking workshop was being held in a large meeting room. Through the glass wall, I saw how the entire setup evolved over the course of three morning hours. A group of about 30 employees first watched the presentation of a project/problem, then divided up into several working groups that gradually changed, and then came what seemed to be a summary with the whole group, but under the leadership of different speakers.
It all played out nearly wordlessly and under a certain internal order that everyone respected. Around noon there was time for a twenty-minute lunch, and then they went on.
I’ve asked Filip Vasić what keeps these employees, with all their nationalities, cohesive. He states that it’s definitely the project, which is pioneering and has international ambitions. Young people under 30 — the main group you’ll find here — are working on something that doesn’t exist yet, and so they can really create the future.
He says his colleagues are naturally curious how it will all turn out, and they harbor a spirit of discovery, and sometimes adventure too. Otherwise they wouldn’t have transplanted themselves to Central Europe of all places, with its mentality so different from that in South America, Asia, North America, and Western and Eastern Europe.
My visit to NEORIS was a pleasant glimpse of the near future — from the standpoints of both technology (the digital transformation) and society (the natural cooperation of many nations).