As innovation becomes a focus for businesses across the country, the need for creative spaces to foster collaboration, identify customer needs and develop solutions has grown.
For that reason, Nationwide has opened a new innovation center, The CoOperative, at the site of the former Arena Grand theater in Columbus, Ohio’s, Arena District. The CoOperative will initially be open to Nationwide associates, the goal for the space is to engage the community as well as host events that attract innovators from all over the world to Columbus.
“Innovation has always been a part of Nationwide’s culture,” said Scott Sanchez, Nationwide’s chief innovation officer. “The CoOperative is part of our strategy to rapidly evolve to meet the needs of our customers as we work to find innovations that truly delight and surprise them…and to enable the innovators across Nationwide that make it happen. The CoOperative won’t be just a building…it will be a member of the team!”
The CoOperative is a purpose-built space, designed to accelerate the human-centered collaborative work Nationwide’s teams do every day. Nationwide used the same approach the company uses to create innovations for its customers in the design of its space, “design thinking”, to create a space that is ideal for experimenting, talking to customers, creating prototypes, and other work crucial to the innovative process.
“I am very excited for the new CoOperative space – which is designed to spark creativity and enable collaboration,” said Daniela Lohse, property and casualty innovation leader. “We look forward to partnering with corporate innovation in this space, and elsewhere, to create customer-driven solutions.”
The CoOperative was built to be flexible and a key design principle was having the space evolve to the way individuals and teams need to work every hour and every day.
“Our teams collaborated closely throughout the development of the CoOperative, bringing together our respective expertise to create the best environment to innovate,” said Kieran Sherry, senior vice president for Nationwide Corporate Real Estate. “We’re excited about this unique space and how it will accelerate innovation across Nationwide.”
The CoOperative’s many features include:
- Town Square – The center of the space is modeled after a Town Square where teams and individuals come in from their working “neighborhoods” from surrounding areas to grab a drink or a snack, enabling “productive collisions” of different people and thus unexpected outcomes as new ideas or new ways of thinking.
- Farmed themed free-standing team rooms – Sitting in the center of many of the “Neighborhoods”, celebrating the most important skill of collaboration, these rooms were designed as a modern-day farmhouse. The ceiling of the team space is reminiscent of farmhouse roof, yet inverted, to make it unique and modern for the future. The overhang along the wall is reminiscent of the roof of a front sunporch, inviting the team room to expand their workspace beyond the four walls.
- Green and Green Carpeting – The CoOperative carpet comes from a zero-emissions carpet manufacturer. The pattern looks like grass or moss, once again reminding us of the organic nature of Nationwide’s work and roots.
- Sound-absorbing art – Many of the art pieces featured in the CoOperative are designed to inspire, but not overshadow the work being done. They also serve a practical purpose – to absorb sound to help promote a creative and productive working environment.
- Cinema conference room – Located on the second floor, this room has been largely untouched from its days as a former theater from the original Arena Grand theater. The room is equipped with video conference capabilities with two cameras so remote participants can feel like they are in the room.
“The CoOperative is a living example of our heritage and the constant role that innovation has played throughout our rich history serving our customers,” says Chetan Kandhari, Nationwide’s chief digital officer. “We are excited to have this amazing hub that allows us to imagine and create amazing experiences with our customers at the center.”