BBC Capital

Office Space

A study in contrasts at a Swiss steel products maker

About the author

Alina Dizik is a freelance journalist who covers consumer trends, careers, lifestyle and small business for national publications. Her work appears in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal and BBC.

Sparks fly in the factories of Swiss steel tubes maker Jansen, but you’d never know it from the pristine offices in the nearby headquarters where engineers craft new designs. 

At the office, hushed minimalism is key. Employees at the steel manufacturer are encouraged not to eat at their desks and are asked to keep as little clutter as possible within view.

“You don’t need 10 pens. You only need one pen,” said Patrick Zach, an employee of family-run steel tube maker in Oberriet, Switzerland. “Maybe you need some papers.”

It is an unconventional approach to the grimy task of producing steel products for some of the world's biggest auto and furniture makers. But 90-year-old company prides itself on reinventing what it means to work for a manufacturer.

Does this office space work for both its gritty product and its sleek creative and design needs? Click play and see for yourself.

(Video by Sebastian Cepeda; editing by Jeremy Presner)

Office Space is a video series that peeks inside some of the world's coolest offices to find out how design and form meet function, creativity and productivity.