In 2003, Hyundai Card was bleeding money – the incoming CEO realized that, after only two years of existence, the company was set to lose more than 1.5 billion euros, as the South Korean market didn’t understand the product thoroughly. So instead of treating the new child of the Hyundai Motor Group conglomerate as a commodity, cutting costs everywhere, Taeyoung Chung placed a bet on the long game: he invested in the happiness and loyalty of its employees, increasing salaries by 10 per cent and producing big-budget marketing campaigns that spoke of the greatness of the product, the people behind it and the country's culture. Since then, the company behind the M Card has become a highly profitable jewel in the Hyundai chaebol.

Now, the company is shifting gears in a different way: to stay one step ahead of the times, how do you properly transition into becoming a fintech-first service? Once again, by investing in the happiness and loyalty of your employees.

For the new Hyundai Card offices, the company recruited Gensler to envision a highly digital workplace that would also foster a culture of human interaction, innovation and collaboration. ‘They asked us for a new work environment that would reflect this genesis, whilst ensuring that its talented people could flourish and thrive in a beautiful, vibrant and comfortable space,’ said Gensler principal Philippe Paré.

The design firm came back with the idea for Pixel Factory: a space where the digital (pixel) could meet analogue work (factory) in order to support innovation.

A conveyor belt physically and symbolically connects the teams and their work

That’s why, at Pixel Factory, the menu of flexible layouts go beyond the soundbooth, the library and the amphitheatre: the 3000-sq-m space offers moveable meeting rooms, gardens and even DJ booths, as well as transformable cubicles.

As the space is highly connected with a wide range of digital devices and the networks that support them, managing the unavoidable cables and chargers became a challenge. Gensler responded by turning them into a focal point, creating a bright overhead conveyor belt to house them. ‘It physically and symbolically connects the teams and their work, whilst providing the necessary infrastructure that supports all alternative settings for creation and experimentation,’ explained Paré.

The takeaway: If you have the space, don’t be afraid to get experimental – and even a bit weird – with the layouts for flexible workspaces – your employees might end up with some new favourites.