The building stands out from the ridge of high rises, two-storey structures and bungalows on the famous Awolowo Road in Ikoyi. Daylight bounces off its chiselled, almost glossy, cream bricks, black lines shootout around a semicircular glass window reminiscent of sun rays peeping out of the clouds at dawn. The
I walk into the reception and am ushered up the stairs to a waiting area. Expensive light bulbs hang from the ceiling like fireflies dangling from strings in the dark of night. Across me is a meeting room with ‘3’ painted on the door. Inside the room, there’s ‘Integrity’ written on the wall. I learn later that all the meetings rooms in the Renmoneybuilding are named after the company’s values -- meeting room 1 is Data, meeting room 2 - Innovation, meeting room 3 - Integrity, the boardroom is Excellence, and there’s a training room down the stairs called Service.
I’m invited in, past an open office, through a doorway, and to the train, a special blue and white compartmentalized structure designed like a locomotive. Across is inscribed “We are on the move”. It is created for anyone who wants to break away from the group. There, I meet Khade Idogho, Renmoney’s Chief Marketing Officer. His charisma fills the cubicle and is evident in his baritone voice.
Khade explains to me that the new office is designed to promote collaboration and idea sharing while ensuring that the departments that require privacy are respected.
“We tend to work with the whole building and we don’t stay in one space. That’s where we sit,” he adds as he points to his team’s table, “but we scribble stuff everywhere.” I can see marketing jargon scribbled all over a glass board. “We have meetings here and the there and encourage everybody else to use the building that way.”
Unlike the old one, Renmoney’s new office is designed for more fluid movement across departments and easier access between team members. Every so often, the CEO, Oluwatobi Boshoro, makes her ‘morning rounds’, walking around the floor and saying hello to members of her team. I’m told that in the old building, just down the street, employees could go months without seeing the CEO and colleagues could go weeks without seeing each other. Different departments, different floors, desks separated by cubicles. All that is gone now.
BoluAkinyemi, a member of the finance team, tells me that the new space helps him solve problems better and encourages him to interact more with people. The diversity (in the teams) helps, he says, it gives him more perspectives to work with.
For Omorinsola Abass, her role in the HR team is to help create a place where people are happy to work, a place where everyone has what they need to produce the right results. I ask her how she does this. “To foster productivity, we try to ensure everyone is functioning at full capacity and that they have everything they need to work with -- work tools, training, sometimes it’s just that the person needs time off.” She further explains that issues of productivity are reviewed case-by-case. “We don’t lump people together,” she says, “We sit and talk with each person and design frameworks and capability improvement schemes to help get the best out of them.”
I ask her what the best part of her job is and she tells me it’s the daily interactions with people. “You come across different scenarios and situations. There are the happy days, and then there are the days when you have to empathize with people and talk to them about issues troubling them outside work. The diversity of engagement means that, for me, one day is never the same as the next.”
A few minutes later, I meet Vivian Nwabueze. Vivian is a team lead in the direct sales channel. She tells me that the aesthetics of the building motivate her to work better. She adds that the company rewards performance and there’s a clear line for growth.
Lunch time takes me down the stairs to the ground floor, through the sales and contact centre area and into the canteen.
There are light brown tables engraved with the Renmoneylogo surrounded by white chairs and blue sofas where people sit to eat. There’s a table football set at the entrance. The pristine white walls are decorated with a plethora of coloured illustrations and a Renmoneygraffiti. There’s a common theme around the building -- blue and orange. You can’t miss it.
I ask who designed the office and I’m told it’s Spacefinish, a Lagos-based creative agency, the same one that designed the Andela, Google, and Ventures garden Group Offices, among others.
Later in the day, I meet Adija Uzodinma, the IT manager, and Itohan Iyalla, the head of products. Adija tells me that she usually kicks off her day with Netflix or tries to get some rest before work begins.
Itohan says she usually starts her day with personal prayers, conversations with her mum and husband, and creating her to-do list. She spends most of her days doing market research and interfacing with technical partners.
Some days are pizza days at the office, after work, for the people who stay back. Some leave in batches, heading home or down the street for an evening get together. Adija and Itohan let me in on a little tradition. Every Friday, one member of their teams hosts the other for lunch.
When I’m done at the train, I walk back around the office. Almost everyone is dressed business-casually. A few months ago, you would have instantly known you’d walked into a bank. But things are different around here now. Times have changed and the company has progressed with the tide.
I end my visit back at the waiting area. I sit down to revise my notes and take some pictures. My Uber is on the way.