Wooden swings and games consoles in an office? What might seem absurd at first has actually been part of daily life at Heliotron Deutschland GmbH, based in Freiburg, since autumn 2018. An innovative furnishing concept lies behind the office design, complemented by furniture systems from Melle, and Heliotron’s partners, clients and employees absolutely love it.
When you step into the new offices of the Baden-based family business, you’re immediately struck by the elegant arrangement of Heliotron candle lanterns and the warmly lit reception desk, complemented by a white Allvia storage unit featuring dark, mirror-shine glass laminate. The cabinet’s style fits perfectly with the wider contemporary office design; it’s from the ASSMANN range like so many of the other furnishings. “We worked on the interior design with Offenburg-based architects Partner AG,” explains Oliver Schneeberger, Managing Director of the Freiburg-based company. “They recommended that we use of fice furniture supplierStreit Service & Solution GmbH & Co. KG, and it was through them that we then got to know ASSMANN”. The “Made in Melle” furniture wowed both the Managing Director of the liquid wax product business and his team in charge of the interior design project: “They’re not just practical and attractive, they’re also good value for money when compared with the competitors,” says Oliver Schneeberger, explaining how the furnishing solutions from ASSMANN enhance the new open-plan office.
The company needed to relocate to give employees more space as well as boost its attractiveness as an employer both internally and externally. Initial ideas about the design of the space were being discussed by October 2017, and six months later, work started to renovate the former warehouse space. “We basically stripped everything out and started afresh: Insulation, roof, walls, windows, heating and plumbing, all of the electrics and the foyer,” recalls Schneeberger. “We had plasterers and painters in here all the time”. In September 2018, the space was ready for Heliotron to move in. “The concept needs to work as a whole,” says Schneeberger. He knew his plan to introduce an innovative working model at the same time as moving might have posed challenges, but he was sure that he was taking the right approach: “We looked at different progressive models for working and realised that it’s vital to give employees greater responsibility,” he says. Summing up the benefits of these models, he continues, “It boosts employee job satisfaction, leading to lower levels of staff turnover and less absenteeism”. The new working environment at Heliotron is anything but traditional. The open-plan office is home to around 40 single occupancy workstations kitted out with ASSMANN furniture, plus several meeting areas. And in the middle of all that are games consoles hooked up to a flatscreen display, three swings and a small library complete with comfortable seating. This unusual furnishing set-up reflects the fresh new working structure that has been in place at the family-run business since the move.
This innovative concept includes flexible working hours and unlimited holiday time and gives employees the chance to break the mould of their usual working processes. The staff’s new-found freedom comes with the responsibility to structure work in a way that ensures tasks and projects are still completed on schedule. As long as they keep to this rule, Heliotron employees are then free to take small breaks playing video games or reading in the library to recharge their batteries. You can usually find these sorts of working models in the US, such as the famous Silicon Valley in the heart of California. „Despite all the scepticism from outsiders, we can definitively says that: it works here in Germany too,” assures Oliver Schneeberger. adding, “There has been a very noticeable increase in how much the staff identify with the company since moving”.
Heliotron looked to furniture solutions from Melle for the office’s workstations to ensure that employees not only felt at ease on their breaks, but when working too. All of the desks came from the Solos range. “We just loved the visual design of the products, that’s why we chose ASSMANN desks,” reveals Schneeberger. With their white desktops and elegant anthracite grey frames, the desks were a subtle counterweight to the bright and busy design on parts of the flooring and the red back panels on the ASSMANN Allvia sliding door cabinets dotted about the room. These cabinets help add structure to the open-plan office and support the clean desk policy in place at Heliotron with their spacious compartments. Each employee does have an assigned desk space, but they can easily change if they want to, provided that all desks are left clear of any personal belongings when it’s time to go home. They can instead be stored and even locked in the Allvia cabinets. Rails and LiftTec monitor arms from ASSMANN ensure that monitors and cables are kept neat and tidy when working at the desks. Printed papers and files that usually make for a messy desk are almost nowhere to be seen. That’s because work at Heliotron is predominately done paperlessly. There are no waste paper baskets under desks to encourage employees to think green automatically. “Of course, we sometimes need to print something out or note something down on paper, that can’t be avoided,” acknowledges the head of the Freiburg company. That’s why there’s one central waste paper bin next to the printers. “That means the staff at least have to get up and move to throw their print outs away,” Schneeberger says with a wink, although his reasoning is sincere. He cares deeply about the health and welfare of his employees.
After all, good well-being boosts productivity and makes the working atmosphere more pleasant. In addition to the unlimited holiday time and stateof- the-art, well-structured workstations, the Aviator Lounge also helps promote better well-being in the workplace. The office’s cosy foyer, which Oliver Schneeberger and his team furnished with great attention to detail, is set out like a small café. It’s where colleagues gather to eat lunch or have a coffee break together. The whole space is not only stylishly decorated with candles from the company’s own product lines, a myriad of aviator-related accessories adorn the area too.After all, good well-being boosts productivity and makes the working atmosphere more pleasant. In addition to the unlimited holiday time and stateof- the-art, well-structured workstations, the Aviator Lounge also helps promote better well-being in the workplace. The office’s cosy foyer, which Oliver Schneeberger and his team furnished with great attention to detail, is set out like a small café. It’s where colleagues gather to eat lunch or have a coffee break together. The whole space is not only stylishly decorated with candles from the company’s own product lines, a myriad of aviator-related accessories adorn the area too.
This is where Schneeberger leaves his own fingerprint on the company: He is an amateur pilot in his spare time and brings his love of flying to the fore with this extraordinary and stylish space. With its model aeroplanes and playful details, the Aviator Lounge mirrors the “office play area” with the games consoles and swings. Both are manifestations of an innovative concept which the Freiburg-based company impressively demonstrates, showing how to achieve the perfect mix of relaxing break space and creative working environment with the help of ASSMANN products.
The aim was to create a peaceful atmosphere in which staff could concentrate when working as well as relax when taking a break.
As the company had a clean desk policy, the project required storage and desk solutions that were practical and blended in with the overall office design.
Creating a modern working environment in a former warehouse
Specialist retail partner:
Streit Service & Solution GmbH & Co. KG, Hausach
Heliotron Deutschland GmbH manufactures innovative liquid wax products for customers around the world. Founded in 1976, the Freiburg-based company predominantly supplies its products to the gastronomy and hotel industries, ecclesiastical institutions and funeral homes.