Nationwide’s new center, designed in part to foster innovation and greater collaboration on product development, is open for business.
Named The CoOperative, the center will be based at the former Arena Grand theater in Columbus, Ohio’s Arena district. Initially, Nationwide employees will use the center, but the insurer also wants to use the space for community engagement and to attract innovators from all over the country and the world to Columbus.
Scott Sanchez, Nationwide’s chief innovation officer, said that The CoOperative plays well into the insurer’s broader strategy to adapt quickly to customers’ wants and needs.
“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,” Sanchez said in prepared remarks.
Nationwide describes The CoOperative as a “purpose-built space” that’s designed to accelerate collaboration between Nationwide employees of different teams and departments. Nationwide said it used the same approach the company uses to create innovations for its customers in the design of its space. Concepts involved in the center’s creation include “design thinking,” which enables creation of a space ideal for experimenting, talking to customers creating prototypes and other work crucial to the innovative process.
The CoOperative was built to be flexible so that it can change as needed for the work to be done. A key design principle was having the space evolve to the way individuals and teams need to work every hour and every day instead of the other way around. Various Nationwide teams also collaborated on the design process, Nationwide said.
Among the center’s new features:
- Town Square – The center of the space is modeled after a Town Square where teams and individuals come in from their working “neighborhoods” in surrounding areas to grab a drink or a snack, enabling “productive collisions” of different people and thus unexpected outcomes such as new ideas or new ways of thinking.
- Tree Sculpture – This sculpture in the Sun Room serves as a beacon that draws people into the building and reminds everyone that The CoOperative is a place for growth and a creative greenhouse. Just as seeds grow into trees, this is a space where people and ideas grow into innovators and innovations.
- Farm-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, a nod to Nationwide’s agricultural roots. The ceiling of the team space is reminiscent of a 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 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. This will be a place to share stories about customers, pitches on new ideas and programs to build Nationwide’s people.