On my first visit to the One Africa Media offices, I was stopped on my tracks. I thought I was lost, if it wasn’t for the small signage confirming that I was in the right place I’d have turned around and left.
The office looked like it was still under construction but our host was quick to confirm that it wasn’t and the company had opted for this rugged look for their interior décor.
A far cry from traditional offices. Almost every aspect of the furniture and décor is made from recycled products.
One of the first things you notice are two small coffee tables designed like a cart made from recycled wood at the reception. A walk through the offices will lead to the kitchen area which has chairs made from recycled cable rolls and tables made of car rims.
These feel is replicated throughout the first and fifth floor of Grosvenor Suite building, inside 14, Riverside. It is carried in the different department including Cheki, Brighter Monday, Buy Rent Kenya, and Stay Now which are all brands under the One Africa Media.
“It is said that cool office spaces help foster creativity,” says One Africa Media’s chief executive, Carey Eaton, adding that this is what he intended the work place to be like.
“A company cannot grow with traditional structures in place and I envisioned a work space that fosters openness, team work, freedom, and games. I find that a brand that has this people tend to work as a team.”
I equated it to an art garage with all the rugged metal sculptures but with workers ticking away at their desks. The CEO’s desk is made from parts of an aeroplane, a concept that is replicated in the boardroom where the table is the wing of a plane with car seats around it.
Most of the art is sourced locally. The idea was to support local innovation and design, recycled Kenyan materials with bespoke furniture and features that support the different brands.
The interior designers, Vianello Modola and Kazimufti, used craftsmanship and art to build a working culture of open collaboration, flat hierarchy, rapid innovation, attracting smart people and giving them a work-life balance, said Mr Eaton.
At lunch hour, the staff members can play a game of ping pong over lunch or table tennis.
Elaine Mathangani, the Marketing Manager of Cheki, an online car selling website, says they encourage staff to relax by engaging in games with frequent breaks in the day.
The dress code is also informal with most of the staff donning casual wear, a standard set by Mr Eaton who prefers casual wear to formal wear.
It is common to find him in flip flops, his staff say. He also prefers no clocks on the walls, which he says means there are no time schedules in their offices.
Brighter Monday’s marketing manager, Emmanuel Mutuma says having all this elements and a flexible environment helps the team work more and more hours without getting fatigued.
“There is flexibility at work with no one pushing you to work, as this is an office setup that is more interactive and unstructured which gives it a laid back feel.”