Real Madrid: Spanish event takes us into the age of creativity

As the economic and industrial centre of Spain, Madrid provided the perfect backdrop for a conference addressing key shifts in workplace practice to bring creative contributors to the fore

Held in the heart of Madrid’s financial district at Accenture’s office, WORKTECH Madrid 2023 saw a host of talks and panel discussions held in Spanish, with topics ranging from innovation in workplace design to the role of the office in an evolving workplace strategy.

Accenture’s Castellana 85 office, boasting an impressive fusion of technology and human ingenuity, reflected the topic matter of the conference well. With a focus on employee experience, sustainability and innovation, a discussion between Denia Velasco, Technology and Business Transformation MD and Javier Ochoa, Transformation Director, Accenture, saw the emphasis placed on reinventing the hybrid workplace experience. The event concluded with a tour of Accenture’s innovative office space, which proved popular.

Designing for the future

How can you imagine something that doesn’t yet exist? This was the question posed to the audience by Mireya Juárez, head of EMEA workplace strategy at HP. Using an extraterrestrial example, she asked the audience to shut their eyes and imagine an alien. Did it have eyes? Did it have legs? How many legs? Two? Five? With wildly different answers from the audience to each question, the point made was that creating a cohesive and unified vision of the future is an impossible task. So, what does this mean for the future of the office?

Mireya Juárez split the different eras of working into three periods: the industrial age, which aligned with a more basic economy; the information age, where technology revolutionised the workplace experience and efficiency became a driving factor; and the period we are currently entering – the creative age. Touching on the importance of integrating technology effectively, this talk argued for the future office in the creative age as a desirable space, where emphasis on flexibility, comfort and wellbeing should be the norm.

Music in Madrid

Mid-afternoon saw a case study presented by Rodrigo Canas of Spaceti – in the spotlight was Príncipe Pío, a former train station now home to the first creative hub in the music world. Signalling a departure from the traditional workspace concept, Warner Brothers Spain’s The Music Station, created in collaboration with Spaceti, takes workplace innovation to a whole new level.

Aimed at targeting a new generation of workers and artists, Spaceti has designed an app for The Music Station which allows users to prebook meeting rooms and studio spaces. The ultimate vision is to create a host of dedicated, flexible spaces available 24/7 globally, where employees can design their days in advance and with ease. The integration of Spaceti’s app facilitates the entire process, placing the emphasis firmly on user experience.

The orange economy

A talk from Dr Cristina Mateo, Associate Dean of Madrid’s IE School of Architecture and Design, also saw the repurposing of disused buildings as the topic in focus. Highlighting Madrid as a content city, this talk delved into the idea of transforming urban economies by making the most of useable spaces.

An interesting example was that of Ombú, Madrid – once an important industrial space, this building fell into disuse and was set for demolition until acquired by Acciona in 2017. The building has since been transformed to comprise of a sustainably sourced, lightweight timber structure, and mixes private and public space to facilitate integration with the surrounding community.

Also on the agenda was the topic of orange economies: a concept in which value comes from the expertise of creators. The more creatives a city can attract corresponds to increasing levels of investment, which in turn energises local communities. As a result, creative hubs in cities globally have been able to renovate urban areas and transform into places that focus on artistic and creative development, as well as economic growth. Examples of this in action included Miami’s Design District, Wynwood, the borough of Shoreditch in London, and Kakaako, Honolulu, USA. Accordingly, we learnt that the escalation of creative industries can act as a catalyst for urban change.

The Spanish experience:

Two expert panels saw the office experience as the focal point for discussion: ‘Cross-functional approaches to the workplace experience’ and ‘Redefining the office purpose: navigating real estate and return-to-office dynamics’. The former considered the importance of designated spaces in the office to best utilise the workplace ecosystem, whilst the latter looked at how the modern workforce’s changing needs and expectations correlate to augmented valuations of the workplace environment, with a focus on implementing actions sustainably.

Find out more about WORKTECH Madrid 2023 here.

Ella King is marketing and editorial coordinator at WORKTECH Academy
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