Over the past few days the new headquarters of Volkswagen Group China in Beijing has been filled with life. Around 2,300 people started working here. This was no conventional move, for it was not just a matter of transporting work stations from A to B. The move marks the start of a completely new world of work, which will be more connected, agile, healthy and digital.
The new building also reflects the central role that China plays for the Volkswagen Group. China is the Group’s largest market worldwide, and Volkswagen is the leader on the market here. “The future of Volkswagen will be decided on the Chinese market,” said Herbert Diess on visiting Beijing at the beginning of the year. He noted that the automotive industry is going through a fundamental process of transformation, and that China is setting the pace with respect to e-mobility as well as autonomous and connected driving. “China is the new powerhouse of the automotive industry.”
Six words that all begin with “V” stand for this new era of Volkswagen’s work in Beijing: Visionary, Vibrant, Variety, Village, Viable and Vitality. The employees, who were encouraged to propose names for the new building, have therefore christened the new headquarters the V-Space.
The headquarters is located in the Chaoyang district of Beijing along the 3rd ring road. Chaoyang is a lively place with lots of good shopping and recreational facilities as well as many snack stands, cafés, small restaurants and everything that belongs to the vibrant Beijing daily life. As a mobility hub, the site could be accessed via car-driving, taking sub-way rides or e-bikes conveniently. V-Space offers seven floors of spacious office space with numerous facilities that make the employees’ work easier, more collaborative and more flexible.
Six Vs: The New Headquarters in Beijing
The latest hardware and software, new technologies and ingenious processes will support a culture of innovation. These include wireless projection units, new Skype-integrated conference units and interactive HD touch screens in meeting rooms. New, secure mobile applications allow employees to continue working on the move.
Many different rooms for formal and informal meetings as well as open spaces where employees can work on projects together offer the ideal conditions for collaboration. The aim is to enable an agile and connected approach to work that transcends departmental lines.
The new headquarters stands for variety and inclusion. Universal-access work stations are designed to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. Meditation and quiet rooms are available to all the employees. There’s co-working space where parents can take care of the kids while working, which makes it easier for parents to combine work and family. All the employees should be able to determine where and when they work, taking their individual situations and ways of life into account. These measures are based on the idea that variety and diversity can help teams work in more effective and especially more creative ways.
The new headquarters should be not only a place where people can work together, but also something like a home village for the company’s employees and brands as well as customers and visitors. The V-Space forms its own ecosystem with services that make work easier as well as shops, a fitness studio, café, teahouse and company clinic open to all the “villagers”.
The new headquarters was built with the idea of preserving the environment and resources. That includes everything from sustainable building materials and green walls to energy and water-saving features and a natural air-exchange system. As a result, the V-Space received LEED certification in gold. The LEED certification process specifies environmentally friendly standards.
The green walls, clean air, healthy food, ergonomic furniture, fitness equipment and medical services are all intended to increase employees’ well-being. Not least of all, the food on offer in the cafeteria and other restaurants is expected be balanced, nutritious and varied.
The V-Space now houses four of Volkswagen Group China’s subsidiaries and multiple brands under one roof. Working side by side in the new headquarters will help “strengthen collaboration between brands and departments,” says Jens Pfitzinger, Vice President Human Resources, Organization and ITP at Volkswagen Group China. The site will play a crucial role in efforts to shape the future of cars and mobility. “I can see that the employees are every bit as excited about this step as I am,” he said. “Moving into the V-Space is another milestone in the ongoing transformation of Volkswagen Group China. The new headquarters brings all the members of the VGC family closer together and provides a more efficient platform for trans-departmental coordination and collaboration.”
The employees of Volkswagen Group China laid the foundation for the new office building, says Pfitzinger. That can be understood literally. From 2016 to 2018, around 750 employees were involved in gathering needs and ideas, and the answers influenced the building’s design and furnishings from height-adjustable table to state-of-the-art ergonomic chairs. A tour of the floors reveals many spacious open areas along with places to retreat for intensive work periods.
Vitality and Communal
Glass and green walls are a prominent feature of the new building. Each floor has an onion-like layout, with a central hub in the middle that has large meeting rooms as well as places for informal exchange. It is surrounded by a belt of offices and small cabins for concentrated work. The outer ring consists of spaces where interdisciplinary teams can meet and work while enjoying the sunshine. Everything can be designed in flexible ways to accommodate the size of the team and the needs of its members.
By August, all the facilities will be operating in full swing including a top quality food court serving a rich variety of healthy food, a fitness studio, a nice tea house, cafeteria, convenience store and a medical clinic. The new town hall and training centers will offer all the residents space that supports community and new way of working. The automotive showroom with the latest brand models will also be open and accessible to visitors by then.
The new headquarters by design fosters a unique sense of belonging for all under the same roof and brings the ‘family and communal’ spirit into real life.