The office has become somewhat of a joke in modern media. Shows like The Office portray a humdrum, even depressing atmosphere where employees are forced to work without thanks or fair compensation in dreaded cubicle farms. The resultant effect on screen is a wonderful satirical humor, but in reality working for eight hours a day in a grey, artificially lit building with only out-of-date technology and a nasty canteen for company can drive even the most level headed of us to insanity.
In the past five years, companies like Google, Facebook and Epic have given all office workers hope that the cubical could become a thing of the past. They have created office spaces full of natural light, relaxation rooms, pool tables and juice bars, but are these modern offices just a gimmick or do they actually drive productivity and profitability?
Business Review USA takes a look at 10 awesome office space ideas and finds out.
1. Google Mountain View, CA (Global HQ)
Google’s global headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley is all about communication and collaboration. The office building itself is incredibly light and airy, with bucket loads of space for relaxation rooms, coffee shops and workspaces. Employees at Google are certainly not confined to one desk, but are given the freedom to take their computer where they wish to get the creative juices flowing.
The office is full of bright colors, artwork and modern technology. There is not a fluorescent strip light in sight and plenty of outdoor workstations – there is even a slide from the first floor to the ground floor for employees who need a little pick-me-up at the end of the day.
Undeniably, this kind of work environment is more inspirational and appealing for employees. Not everyone works in the same way, and giving people that freedom is bound to yield great results – you only have to look at Google’s market dominance to understand this.
However, an office space alone cannot develop a company culture. At Google, management hold weekly TGIF meetings with the aim of “bringing together Googlers from across the company every week and giving them a chance to share what they’re up to – and to ask our founders anything they want. And we do mean anything.” There is beer too!
2. Facebook Menlo Park, CA
Similarly to Google, Facebook’s HQ is extremely laid back, with games rooms, multiple cafeterias serving anything from pizza and cold cuts to health food options and outdoor workstations. Facebook’s office has even been described as ‘student digs’ with employees being able to take advantage of open plan kitchens and sitting rooms. The building has a very industrial vibe with indoor bike racks, graffiti style artwork and exposed brickwork – it even has vending machines selling accessories like cables, memory cards and other IT paraphernalia that turns programmers on. Once again though, location isn’t everything; a dynamic and innovative workforce comes from good leadership and company culture, not the other way around.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO has spoken about the interior of the office at length, describing the inspirational quotes on the walls as an important element. “Fortune Favors the Bold,” reads one. This type of interior design only works well when backed up by a bold and all encompassing company culture. At Facebook, they have both.
3. Microsoft, Redmond, WA
Once again, Microsoft’s HQ (and it’s office across the globe) have a very up-to-date design and feel, however the one thing that makes its Redmond location stand out is its impressive art collection. The company’s permanent collection boasts more than 4,000 individual pieces, all of which are bound to inspire on a daily basis.
Microsoft also has a plethora of interesting and varied meeting spaces, from large sofa rooms, with interactive displays to intimate tall tables, where co-workers can meet one-on-one over coffee to discuss ideas.
While office spaces cannot transform employee behavior and feeling, one thing is for sure, natural light, open space, healthy food and the ability to exercise during the day is incredibly good for employee wellbeing, health and happiness. And you know what they say: Happy employees equal a healthy bottom line.
4. Epic Systems, Verona, WI
Epic Systems is another company, which pays acute attention to interior design. The building itself is set in it’s own little ecosystem, with lakes, jetties over the water and large expanses of wooden decking. Inside, it’s just as interesting with many different themes running throughout the building. As an example, one corridor has been designed to look like a New York Subway.
However, one of the coolest elements at Epic is its emphasis on the individual – every single employee at the company is encouraged to make their workstation represent them. Some have created bookish corners with table lamps and comfortable chairs, while others have emblazoned the walls around them with the logo of their favorite sports team. The emphasis on the individual is bound to make employees feel more at home in the office.
5. Box, Los Altos, CA
Another Silicon Valley entry here with Box, where scooters, swings and hammocks play a big part in day-to-day operations. This San Francisco based file sharing company has a very young and fun company culture, which is clear and obvious as soon as you peak behind the scenes at its HQ. All employees work on long trestle like tables without any divides, there are great eateries and cafes on site and a lot of relaxation spaces.
6. HUMAN Healthy Vending, Culver City, CA
While we have been waxing lyrical about the introduction of healthy eating into the work environment at places such as Google and Facebook, health food company HUMAN Healthy Vending has been doing a bit of office interior of its own. The Culver City based company is based in an old factory building, and is proud of its comfy rest areas, workstations and meeting rooms.
The company has taken on its green theme throughout, not only in color but also in the way it encourages it employees to get active and live a healthy lifestyle both in and outside work. Oh, and there are a few HUMAN Healthy Vending machines dotted around the office too – call it perks of the job.
7. Autodesk, San Rafael, CA
3D design, engineering and entertainment software company Autodesk is yet another California based company, which has totally and utterly embraced a modern and funky work environment. As you can imagine, its office is filled with cool prototypes, but aside from that it is very open, full of color and has a number of interesting little nooks.
8. Groupon, Chicago, IL
Groupon has gone green not only with its logo but with its office building too. The discount codes company has created a fun, young and heavily themed office for its employees, which includes large green seating throughout, ‘G’ shaped desks and office divides and employee picture walls in the reception. The company has created a garden where its employees can take time out for some R&R (they can even get stuck in with planting if they wish) and a Hawaiian themed chill out zone, complete with a bamboo hut and palm trees.
9. Edelman, Chicago, IL
Edelman has managed to create a fantastic company culture since its inception in 1952. The company has always been very forward thinking in its approach, and its quirky office design certainly came after the development of its collaborative and fun culture was formed. Today, the company HQ is Chicago is full of brightly colored office spaces, serene outdoor areas and naturally lit meeting rooms. The company is also a big fan of art and has introduced some great installations in the office too.
10. Blankspaces Co-Working Space, Los Angeles, CA
Last but certainly not least I wanted to introduce the idea of co-working spaces. In today’s business environment it would be wrong to have a top office spaces list without mentioning the booming phenomenon that is co-working. Blankspaces in LA is just one great example, and provides young start-ups with an incredible place to springboard their business. Blankspaces in LA is in a great exposed-brick building, with large glass fronted meeting rooms and white board paint on the walls. A great place to start any future Google, Facebook or Microsoft.
So there you have it, 10 incredible workspaces that prove the cubicle is soon to be a thing of the past. As for boosting productivity, I think it’s inevitable. Being in a good environment is good for the mind; it helps you focus and get creative and it’s great for collaboration.
You only have to look at the successful companies embracing a modern work space to see it must have some impact, but as we have noted throughout, its not a replacement for good company culture, but an extension.