Are ‘Cool Offices’ the future?

Inventionland in Pittsburgh USA encompasses both a work space designed to fuel and inspire creativity but also a visitor attraction. It houses manufacturing capabilities that include metalworking, woodworking, molding, laser cutting, prototyping and circuit board construction. Inventionland in essence is an idea incubator, realising products from concept to finished product. However about 100 people a month take a tour as it also has no less than 16 themed areas such as shipwrecked pirate ship, treehouse, pet shack, giant shoe and a castle, complete with turrets and a drawbridge. But there’s more to this awe-inspiring facility than waterfalls, faux caves and a giant robot, there’s also a state of the art audio, video and animation studio and one of the largest green screens in the tri-state area. It is a mixture of state of the art manufacturing processes and a fairytale!

 

In 2014, The Barbarian Group moved into their new premises, an open plan loft, in New York. The idea was to create a space that would challenge their creativity whilst offering an area for collaboration. They called upon Clive Wilkinson Architects who designed the Superdesk. It is one long desk that incorporates flat spaces to work on, arches that can be used as meeting areas or private working spaces and plenty of innovative storage. The flowing desk gives a sense of community to the workers who use it and reinforces the ethos of creative thinking that the company strives for. We love this as it reflects our own ideas on open plan and collaborative working.

 

Independent comparison website money.co.uk invested £3M into renovating a Victorian castle in Cirencester with the aim of making it the best place to work in the South West of England. The redesign includes luxuries such as a Star Wars-themed cinema complete with popcorn machine, ice cave, ski lodge and library with a ‘secret passage’. It was designed by interaction and local personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen after consultation with the staff who were asked about their ideal working environment. As well as the new offices, the money.co.uk team is also treated to free breakfast, flexible start times, monthly socials both in the evening and at lunchtime and weekly beers to celebrate an early finish every Friday. Chris Morling, Founder and Managing Director said “The Castle is a really cost effective choice if you compare it to 10,000 square foot of space in London. Looking after your team is paramount and it’s really important I give them the best of everything. Ultimately my team are my most valuable asset.”

 

Ideas about workplace norms are evolving quickly, the particularly competitive environment of the tech industry is being forced to rethink the traditional office space in order to recruit the best people and encourage their creative thinking. Offices are introducing ‘agile’ working, flexible hours, hot desking, collaborative spaces and biophilia. However some companies are pushing the boundaries of the modern office further. Below we explore 3 such companies and discuss whether their ideas mark the future of office working.

As you know, here at Spaceist we committed to helping people create collaborative and innovative workspaces, we have yet to go as far as money.co.uk! However we do understand that a happy, well rested workforce is a more productive. If these unusual offices offer ways for staff to ‘decompress’ and return to work feeling energised and motivated, then perhaps they will in turn improve creativity and productivity. According to research this is indeed the case;

  • Employees in companies that support healthy habits are eight times more dedicated, and three-and-a-half times more creative and innovative.
  • Leaving the office and interacting with your colleagues boosts creativity and engagement.
  • Six out of 10 employees said they would come up with more creative suggestions if they were rewarded for them.

Sources: World Economic Forum, The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review, HR Magazine.

So what would be your perfect office space? Do you think these office spaces encourage productivity and creativity or act as a distraction? We look forward to hearing your opinions, tweet us here.