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Clare Hudson
Clare Hudson
  • 2 Minute Read
  • 17th February 2011

Best places to work

What do you consider to be the purpose of the ‘Office Space ?’ Essentially, I think it can be agreed that the correct space regardless of business type should support the occupants in performing their tasks to the best of their ability. Does this however go further than providing the basic practical amenities such as desks, telephones and internet access?

Zurich office, Google

The book, ‘I wish I worked there’, by Kursty Groves discusses some of the most inspiring and innovative office spaces to work , investigating successful brands that place innovation at the heart of their culture. The question I am interested in is, can the creative design of the work place improve business results?

A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a lecture from a guy who worked at Pixar Animation Studios. The lecture focussed mainly on his animation career however he also spoke of his office space, presenting the audience with videos and photos of fairy tale castles, fake grass floors with lights and multi coloured characters hanging all over the ceilings. I remember leaving feeling inspired and wondering if this sort of creative decorating within the office space could be used in other companies too.

Groves said, “Creative spaces are not just for ‘creative’s’ and they’re not about beanbags and lava lamps! They are spaces that help people to think and should be designed and executed in thoughtful and appropriate ways”. The idea is about recognising that the office space should be a core part of the business in order to successfully encourage collaboration, stimulation and innovation; qualities important to all companies.

Google is one of the most successful businesses on the planet with offices designed in a way to make employees ‘think’. Google said, “At Google, the physical well- being of ‘Googlers’ is put before anything else, so that they are ready to focus on their work. Free food is provided and there are chill- out spaces with plenty of natural light. At the companies HQ in California, there are swimming pools, while staff at the Zurich office can recline in a bath of foam blocks in the water lounge”.

The Red Bull offices have been described by the BT office blog as being “like a cross between an iPod and a futuristic dentist”. Pictures show the interior of the building comprising of masses of stainless steel, floating staircases and slides for staff to play on, suggesting extreme energy and the rushing of adrenalin.

It certainly seems that the office space needs to be as innovative as the product and Google and Red Bull certainly prove this. Success in business doesn’t seem to be about functioning from a pure practical point of view anymore. More and more, companies are realising that projecting a brand identity through the office space, to employees is just as important as how the image is portrayed to the outside world.

It can be argued that well designed workplaces can improve business results and the office space is a physical manifestation of a business’s vision and values. It is interesting to note that the Sunglasses manufacturer, ‘Oakley’ saw US sales rocket after they moved office space to a more modern and high tech head quarters.

The last decade has seen the evolution of the internet and how much it has changed the office space, with companies needing less space for the storage of paper documents. It will certainly be interesting to see how the designs of different office spaces around the world will continue to evolve.

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the British Council for Offices (BCO), said, “When we all started our careers, work was what happened in the office. If you weren’t in the office, you weren’t working. Those boundaries have been completely blown apart by technology and it is clear that, while there will be demand for commercial office space in the future, this space will take on a very different form.”