The (funky) Office of the Future

by Matthew Bushey, October 28, 2009

There’s an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Post about the trend in office design to “reinvent” the workplace and of the renewed focus on creating spaces that are funky and captivating. More companies are looking for vibrant offices that are not just comfortable, but are also engaging and promote collaboration and creative thinking. Gone are the days of dull cubicles and “hepatitis-yellow lights”.
The Post article features a photo of the slide in Google’s New York headquarters, with the caption “Laptoppers leave their desks behind”. It’s an extremely effective image: in instant icon of the playfulness that defines the corporate identity. While engaging in the mundane task of going from one place to another, why not have a little fun at the same time? And in fact, you get to your destination even quicker.
This reminds me of our work with Ben & Jerry’s, another openly offbeat company right in our backyard. When we renovated their corporate headquarters in 2006, we added a curved slide that connects the conference room above to the main floor below. After sitting through a tedious staff meeting, you can pop into the “escape hatch” and go on with your day, leaving the world of powerpoint behind you.
These companies recognize that this is about more than just making their employees happy. The image of their workplace reinforces their company brand. In the case of Google and Ben & Jerry’s, these elements of whimsy fit right in to their corporate philosophy.
We are currently working with the Sabra Dipping Company, makers of hummus and other middleeastern foods. At their new factory and office building in Richmond, Virginia, we’re introducing some other unique features that promote the company brand. Their message is more about global cultural awareness and the pleasures of sharing international foods. While there will be no slide in their corporate offices, you can expect some equally clever moves that celebrate the spirit of the place.

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