Address: Fillstraße 1, 4942 Gurten, Austria
Sector: Mechanical, Electrical & Process Engineering
Office planning: Bene GmbH
FILL is strongly committed to continuing education and the company’s collaborative work with educational institutions in the region. Every year around 1,500 school students visit the site and are given some insights into the work of this high-tech company. The new FUTURE LAB is a modern knowledge and learning workshop for children, young people and adults. The focus here is on digitalisation, research, innovation, natural sciences, engineering and technology. It is a creative space, an open ideas factory and think tank, a training venue where new ideas flourish.
The concept of the FUTURE LAB is targeted towards a wide range of groups, from children and young people in kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools, to apprentices and adult learners, as well as customers, suppliers and partners, who all have the opportunity here to work on new ideas, innovations and collaborations. Together, the FUTURE LAB and the HOLODECK – a presentation and training area – form a digitalisation centre and a model of educational collaboration and networking.
What were the most important requirements the office design had to fulfil?
We were looking for furniture with an industrial-style character, which also looks cool and creates a warmly inviting atmosphere. STUDIO by Bene fulfils this brief perfectly. STUDIO by Bene is neat and unfussy, but also very stylish. Combined with PARCS upholstered furniture, the overall effect is very pleasing without looking flashy. The feedback from our staff is entirely positive. They are now able to concentrate on the essentials without getting distracted, and feel very comfortable in this appealing working environment.
One highlight in your building is the Future Lab, furnished with PIXEL by Bene. What is special about the Future Lab?
Our Future Lab sets a new standard for educational collaboration. The lab style of PIXEL fits perfectly and its tremendous flexibility is ideal for this innovation workshop. It is an inter-generational think tank for people aged 3 to 65+. Older visitors are very welcome too of course. There is room here for anyone who wants to think and work innovatively. Of course, the prime objective in our sights with the Future Lab is recruiting our next generation of specialists. We want to excite children and young people at an early stage about the idea of a career in industry. The Future Lab, together with the Holodeck, a 360-degree cinema, is designed to be Europe’s coolest classroom. But we also want to open up the Future Lab for other companies and offer an inspiring space for new ideas. Brand image is an important factor here too. We want to showcase an industrial company that combines high-tech solutions with a high-touch approach. Because without human input, even the most intelligent machine is nothing.
You’ve raised an important topic: Humans versus machines. Will humans still be needed, as machines get more and more intelligent?
Artificial intelligence is ultimately just software. Without input, without creative stimulation from a human, it is just a series of zeros and ones, purely a collection of soulless data. For innovation and the development of new ideas, however, what’s needed is the collaboration and inspiration that comes from a team. Humans are able to work outside the norms, to explore new pathways. Artificial intelligence is always based on an algorithm which does not allow for this unpredictability of new ideas.
Old versus new. What has changed in your offices since the remodelling was finished?
We want to be the best employer in the industry with the best working environment. Our allocation of workspace is still relatively conservative. Every member of staff has their own desk. In current times, affected by dramatic changes such as the global pandemic, constancy is very important for our employees. We provide this constancy partly in the form of a stable ownership structure and partly by giving everyone their own personal workspace. Even colleagues who are rarely on site and spend a lot of time away from the office – they all have their own desk. Having their own desk gives our employees a vital foothold in the company, without having to hunt around for a place when they come into the office. We also offer a 4-day week and working from home. But our employees want to work in the company premises. It serves as a home base for them in these uncertain times.
What impact has the current pandemic had on their work?
We provide safe workstations which are all set up to allow the distancing needed for safety. Masks have to be worn. We have 900 staff members in total, and 300 of these have been working at home at one time or another.
FILL produces high-tech machines and is a global market leader in some sectors. How do you keep coming up with new ideas and innovations?
We are the largest trainer of apprentices in the region and one of the top three employers in the Innviertel area. We have very little staff turnover. New ideas come from our collaborative partnerships with universities. We are also sought-after as innovation partners for research institutes and businesses. The Future Lab is another source of ideas and innovation.
Star Trek plays an important role in your company headquarters. How did this happen?
That’s my personal passion for the Starship Enterprise and Star Trek. Our new production hall includes 19 cranes on two levels. We wanted to make the factory look as attractive and appealing as our office areas. So we chose a neutral colour scheme. But the white cranes need to be distinguished, and creative naming helps to differentiate between them. The big 40 tonne cranes are called Kirk, Spock and Scotty. LED strips are reminiscent of Knight Rider and are an additional safety feature. Those films were revolutionary and visionary. We wanted our production area to reflect this spirit.
What does your personal workspace look like, and how will it look in the future?
My work area is very tidy. Order and cleanliness are core values at FILL. I have been operating a paperless office for a long time already. So, I don’t think my workspace will change very much in the future.
A company without an office is meaningless.
Andreas Fill, CEO of FILL
FILL is an internationally successful mechanical engineering and plant construction company. With a production area of 40,000 m2, FILL manufactures high-tech equipment and implements research and development projects. In aluminium core removal technology, casting technology, bandsaw technology (for the timber industry) and for ski and snowboard fabrication machinery the company is a global market and innovation leader. “If you are seeking the best solution, shape your future with Fill” – this is the guiding principle for the company’s 900 employees – who all share this vision. This embodies the sense of community in the team, and with partners, customers and friends. Since it was founded in 1966, what has set this family company apart is commitment to its values and enormous innovative strength. In 2019 the company recorded sales of around EUR 169 million. FILL’s departments of high-level language programming, research & development, and the affiliated company CORE smartwork are based in an office building with a total floor area of 1,500 m2, which has recently been redesigned by Bene.
Andreas Fill, CEO of FILL