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Fairphone moves office

After a year and a half of searching and months of putting up with a very squishy office due to our increasing number of employees, we finally did it. We piled our belongings into a truck and moved into Fairphone’s new home.

Office-packing

Marco from our IT team packs up the computers

Planning for the future

In January 2013, our social enterprise started out with a handful of people occupying only a few tables in the corner of a shared office. Over the next two years we managed to take over the entire floor as the company expanded. At the beginning of 2014, when our employee count almost hit 30, we realized that the time had come to find a bigger space that could accommodate our employees’ needs.

As a fast growing startup, we need to prepare ourselves for future growth possibilities. So, from Pakhuis de Zwijger to an old cocoa factory warehouse built in 1884, we’re feeling happy and comfortable in our new, spacious office environment.

But finding the perfect place and creating a design that would cater for our Fairphone needs while also providing an open space for the Fairphone community wasn’t going to be easy. We came up with a big list of key requirements for the new office (some are still pending)  –

  • plants
  • natural light
  • punching bag
  • dance floor
  • second coffee machine
  • breastfeeding room
  • prayer room
  • bigger toastie machine

As you can imagine, the list goes on…

Office-party

Dance floor ready for the housewarming party at Fairphone’s new office

A more sustainable office

Attempting to reduce our environmental footprint was at the top of our priority list.

Sustainability is core to what we do in our phone’s supply chain, and we also wanted this philosophy to extend to the decisions we make when designing our office.

Although most old character buildings, despite their beauty, are poorly insulated, our ex-warehouse is unique as it has been renovated to efficiently conserve energy. The heating system runs from a water reserve located under the building. As the ground temperature is steady, the water requires less electricity to heat it, therefore relying on less power. Complete with thick walls made from brick and plaster to hold in the warmth, double glazed windows and energy saving lightbulbs, our office is energy efficient.

Office-build

Designing Fairphone’s new office. Photographer: James Stokes

Upcycled decor

While we like to tell ourselves we have good taste, it was agreed that the interior design was indeed a job for the professionals. We called in interior architect Melinda Delst from MDID. to oversee the design process and in turn she hired an architect, Yvonne Modderman and project manager, Niels Maree to help execute the project. As a team they immediately understood what we wanted – an open space that was as functional and sustainable as possible, while remaining budget conscious.

This team of innovative designers had us thinking of ways to upcycle and recycle like never before. They took our request for sustainable design seriously, and did all they could to select materials that were either sustainably sourced or reused from demolished buildings.

To give you an idea, the meeting rooms and conference call booths are built from reused window frames and rubberwood – an environmentally friendly wood that is produced using the leftover material from the rubber tree.

The wooden frames that shape these rooms are taken from the materials left behind from the previous office owners, and wooden panels that once floored an Amsterdam cafe now floor our conference call booths. Also, the bar and kitchen area is built using Mosa tiles which have a Cradle to Cradle certificate, meaning that the materials were sourced locally and contribute to enriching and protecting the natural ecosystem.

Office-kitchen

Kitchen at Fairphone’s office with a big, long table where our team have a lunch together

Second hand furniture

But we didn’t stop at the building materials. We tried to act as sustainably as possible when choosing our office furnishings. Pieces of wood from old trains and broken down buildings were refurbished and transformed into what are now our office desks and lunch tables. Many of the “chill out” chairs we acquired were unused stock from an elementary school, and we trawled Amsterdam’s thrift shops looking for lamps, sofas, and shelves. Our CEO Bas even raided his parents’ attic for carpet rugs. Bas says, “Thanks, Mom.”

Open and social

We wanted our office to be open and accessible – a place where all our team members can feel connected and comfortable. The design needed to avoid hierarchical divisions and instead promote an inviting environment where everyone can feel at ease chatting with people from different teams.

We didn’t come this far on our own. Fairphone is growing a social movement and we wanted the space to be welcoming for the community, too.

That’s why we choose a one storey, open-plan office which has already served as a great community meetup space on one occasion so far.

We scattered seating areas throughout the office which we call our mini living-rooms. Made from second hand leather couches and cosy armchairs, these spaces are to stimulate informal meetings and create an alternative to sitting behind our desks.

Office-meeting

Bas, Olivier, Miquel and Raluca having a meeting

Room to grow

We share our office space with the mobile storytelling company 7scenes who, just like us, started as a project within Waag Society, a research institute that invests in creative technology projects for social development. Still, right now, the office feels pretty roomy. But thanks to your continued support we now have the next Fairphone on the way which means that we will go on growing. Our new office gives us the creative and practical space to continue working towards Fairphone’s original goal – creating positive change throughout the electronics supply chain, unravelling it one story at a time.

And what better way to celebrate than hosting a community meetup.

Office-communitymeetup

Getting ready for the community meetup at Fairphone’s office, March 2015

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