While offices serve as functional spaces for businesses, the traditional environment of cubicles and fluorescent lighting does little to inspire office workers or help business productivity.
The companies featured below have improved productivity and well-being among their employees through inventive office space designs. Running a business of any size involves inspiration as much as functionality. When an office space does both, it ends up being one of the coolest offices in the world.
Photo © Iwan Baan
This Spanish architecture firm forgoed potted plants by stationing their ground level office in the heart of a forest. The windows scale up the cylindrical walls and partially into the ceiling, inviting a flood of natural light and heat into their work space. This upper half of the office boasts a stunning and ever-changing view of foliage and wildlife without disrupting the workflow. With the earth sheltering the lower half of the building, it not only helps the building blend seamlessly with the environment, but it offers protection and insulation throughout the office space.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times
With offices located all over the world, Google makes sure that their spaces reflect the different cultures and people that work for them. In New York, for example, discussion rooms resemble the city’s old-fashioned subway cars, and conference rooms are Broadway-themed. Beyond the various representations of New York, there are treadmills and standing desks for employees who want to be mobile as they work, game stations and meditation rooms for when they want to relax, and free food in their gourmet cafeterias. These are some of the many perks that come with working in the Google offices, encouraging employees to come in, be inspired, and enjoy the work they do.
image courtesy of officesnapshots.com
Work and play come together in innovative ways for Inventionland, as their entire Pittsburgh office is built as if modeled after a child’s fantasy toy world. With 70,000 square feet of office space, the designers built 15 different spaces for the workers to tour: pirate ships, castles, even the shoe the old woman lives in are work areas that inspire employees to be as inventive and playful as their surroundings--all while donning lab coats for the effect of being “Creationeers.” With the company inventing over 2,000 items a year, thousands of prototypes are demonstrated through their impressive sound, video, and animation workshops.
Urban Outfitters headquarters is located in a 350,000 square foot abandoned shipyard in Philadelphia. Rather than adopting a traditional office environment, or reinventing a brand new work space, they chose to maintain the look and history of the shipyard while implementing elements of the “Urban” trademark. The natural wear and tear of the building is preserved in rough paint, while wood was salvaged to build stairways. New windows replaced the broken ones, inviting natural light and gorgeous views, but the design of the old windows were kept in place. Designer’s tables were built with vintage sewing machines to emulate an old-fashioned workshop. The building houses a cafeteria, a coffee shop, a library, and even a fitness center for its employees to take advantage of. In bringing all of its employees into one beautifully designed space, Urban discovered that the employee turnover rate dropped by 11%, and that employee wellness increased, resulting in less sick leaves.
What makes a company successful and “cool” doesn’t solely rely on the clever design of the office space, but on the quality of employee work life too. In other words: happy workers make for high-quality workers.