Anyone who has had to while away 40 hours of their week in an office can tell you that the work environment makes a big difference when it comes to employee morale. No one should can be expected to do their best work when surrounded by beige walls and flooded with overhead fluorescent lighting. Under these circumstances, even little things start to make a big difference. Take away casual Friday or stop providing coffee creamer and you could have a riot on your hands, not to mentioned poor productivity and a high turnover rate.
The good news is that at this point, businesses understand the importance of office design and its direct impact on employee satisfaction and the company’s the bottom line. It may take some longer than others to actually adopt these practices, but fortunately, there are some businesses that are leading the way and setting a strong example.
It should come as no surprise that Google tops the list as one of the most amazing office to work in. For those stuck in a gray cubicle, the Google offices can sound downright mythical. Their buildings couldn’t be further than the average office and more closely resemble adult playgrounds where you can roam freely and set up your workspace practically anywhere. With in-house movie theaters, video game area snack bars and gyms, there really isn’t any reason to leave work. Add that so some generous benefits and most employees are Googlers for life.
Another design element strategy that Google executes well, and is a common theme throughout the other offices on our list, is to blend natural elements and light with more industrial and practical building materials. There are plenty of plants, trees and other greenery that help bring the outdoors inside. In addition, walls are covered in boulders and natural materials, like mulch floor covering, are incorporated throughout. There is certainly an eye towards whimsy and plenty of soft, targeted lighting, especially in work areas. You won’t find any banks of harsh florescent lighting that can make everyone look and feel a little jaundiced. Photo credit: Google
In an effort to continue to nurture innovation, a lot of tech companies are leading the way when it comes to creating work environments that place a clear value on the happiness and well-being of their employees. While the Dropbox offices don’t have the same level of playfulness as Google, you can still see a certain amount of humor in their design choices. They have also made a conscious effort to incorporate natural and industrial elements for an office that feels warm, relaxing and professional.
Their building combines open office areas where workers can sit with their laptops in front of large, open windows. Smaller meeting rooms also allow employees a certain amount of privacy to collaborate on projects ad brainstorm ideas. This combination of public and private spaces represents a move away from the popular open office designs that have become popular in recent years, yet have been shown to cause more problems than they solve. Simply by incorporating actual offices, Dropbox demonstrates a willingness to step outside current fads and put their employees first. Photo credit: Dropbox
At Lego, they are in the business of creating better ways to play and that is reflected in every aspect of their work environment. Their headquarters looks almost exactly like what your ten-year-old self would have built designed as an ideal office. There are plenty of places to play video games, relax with colleagues and have the kind of fun that helps then continue to produce great toys for kid of all ages.
With slides throughout the building, there is no need to take the stairs and just think of all the time they save! Not only can you bring your dog to work, but they have an entire play area set up where everyone can romp around. Outside of these common areas that promote play, the actual offices and workstations have a modern feel that is light and bright. File cabinets are mixed with life-size Lego statues so that even the necessary paperwork doesn’t seem quite as mundane.
As with the other offices on our list, the Lego building offers options when it comes to collaborating or working in a private office. There are plenty of large tables to gather and tinker, but employees can also retreat to more private spaces. Instead of forcing workers into a collaborative, open office environment, they are given the freedom to move around the building and choose a workspace. There simply aren’t the same set of boundaries that are commonly found in the traditional offices. Photo credit: Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord
While Parliament might not be a household name, this Portland, Oregon, based advertising agency is helping shape some popular brands. What makes their office so unique is not only layout of their offices, but their use of salvaged materials. The same creativity that goes into helping them build brands can be seen in how their office has been designed and constructed.
Much like other modern work environments, the Parliament office blends natural and industrial materials for a contemporary feel. Incorporating wood, stone plants and natural light helps to soften the feel of stained concrete floors and open ceilings with exposed ductwork. The big difference is that most of the materials used to decorate the building have been reclaimed or recycled. From old street signs and a salvaged pizza oven to reclaimed wood from barns and churches, the building is literally covered in unique objects that have their own story. Photo credit: Parliament
5. White Mountain Office
If you have ever entertained fantasies of living like Batman or a Bond villain, then you need to update your resume and send it over to the White Mountain Office in Stockholm, Sweden. When it comes to office spaces, there is nothing quite like this underground lair. The office is actually an old 4,000 square foot atomic shelter that was renovated. It sits 100 feet below the ground and has the look and feel of a space station. In fact, the conference room floor is a replica of the surface of the moon.
Other unique features include a conference room that is suspending above the servers and work areas that decorated with jungle plants and fog. The entire office is also equipped with artificial waterfalls and plenty of greenery. While working in a cave that can still withstand an atomic bomb may sounds a little dark and dank, the architects of the White Mountain Office have incorporated enough natural elements to create a certain warmth.
Ultimately, the best offices to work in are the ones where the company has decided to put their employees first. This attitude is reflected in design building choices and workspaces. While it might certainly be cheaper and easier to put up some cubicles, this approach sends a clear signal to employees that about their value to the company. Inevitably, this will trickle down into both the quality and quantity of the work that is produced. There is a reason that the companies listed above are able to recruit top talent from around the globe. The right office environment is one essential key to creating a successful company that can continue to grow and innovate.