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6 slick office space ideas – thinking outside the cubicle

6 slick office space ideas – thinking outside the cubicle

Posted 15th January, 2020 by Sarah

5 minute read

We’ve all worked, or know somebody, who has worked in a soulless office. You know the type of place. One with rows and rows of desks stretching out into infinity. One which requires a map simply to locate your workspace.

Fortunately, today, many companies are looking to tomorrow, and treating their employees in a much more humane manner. They actually care about the comfort of their staff; they want to reward commitment and nurture creativity.

Famously, there was pioneering work done by the restlessly-inventive Steve Jobs, during his Pixar Animation days, where the huge office space, which had once been a maze of cubicles, was filled with garden sheds.

Each animator could personalise their own shedicle; make it homely, fill it with the things that inspired them. Importantly, these work areas surrounded a huge open-plan area known as The Atrium – which included a cafe, a fitness centre, a theatre, and plenty of places where people could sit and talk.

This was to encourage employees from different departments, skilled in different disciplines, to meet other people, talk and collaborate. Jobs believed that “unplanned collaborations” were the soul of a creative workplace. The result was Pixar Animation, a business which earned billions and brought home the Best Animated Film Oscar so often the other studios stopped bothering to make cartoons.

So, rethinking the workspace can bring real benefits to a workforce and, therefore, to a business. Employers and the self-employed are increasingly thinking creatively about their workspaces, coming up with new and innovative ways to put an inspiring and productive roof over their employees’ heads.

What follows is a portfolio of offices which think outside the cubicle.

Google, Tel Aviv
Cool Office 1 Google Tel Aviv

Google’s Israeli offices sprawl over eight floors of the Electra Tower in Tel Aviv. No two rooms are the same, with environments ranging in style from breakout spaces that resemble five-star hotel rooms to those that look like something from a sixties sci-fi film – minus the ray guns. There’s even an orange grove in several rooms.

Google, Zurich
Cool Office 2 Google Zurich

Making every room different seems to be the Google way. Their Zurich office has one room filled with pods styled after eccentric aircraft – including a UFO complete with an alien. Another room has pods that resemble beehives. The way into this room is down a fireman’s pole; whilst the quickest entrance to the cafe is down a slide. If you look hard, you might find the odd desk or computer work-station dotted around, but this definitely resembles a children’s play area more than the office of one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Lego, Denmark
Cool Office 3 Lego Denmark

Another workplace that’s dedicated to the serious business of having fun, is Lego’s headquarters in Denmark. Sadly, the building is not constructed from Lego bricks. However, it was designed with a view to nurturing fun, creativity, imagination and unity. Workers build their plastic brick empire in brightly lit and brightly coloured offices, where they share the spaces with their colleagues and a wide range of human-sized Lego-brick figures.

The building features a large collaboration/meeting area in the centre, surrounded by more focussed departments. The idea is that people from different areas can collaborate easily, sharing best practice, insight and ideas. And the easiest way to get from one department to another is a slide.

Inventionland, Pittsburg
Cool Office 4 Inventionland Pittsburg

This business is self-styled as ‘America’s largest invention factory’ and it’s not a vain boast since the company licences a new product roughly every three days. And where do those inventors, or ‘Creationeers’ as they’re called, work? In an office that wouldn’t look out of place in Willy Wonka’s factory.

The work areas are called ‘sets’, and the sets range in theme from a race-track to a giant tree-house and from a medieval castle called Inventalot to a pirate ship. These environments free-up the staff to explore the outside of the so-called box in everything they do and that’s why their creativity is so incredibly productive.

The Bradbury Building, Los Angeles
Cool Office 5 Bradbury Building Los Angeles

If you have an eye for the Gothic, and for Victorian-era decadence, then you can do no better than LA’s legendary Bradbury Building. This office building on the corner of West 3rd and South Broadway has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The five floors of offices and retail outlets surround a spectacular glass-roofed, sun-lit central atrium.

The building has appeared in movies as diverse as (500) Days of Summer, Jack Nicholson’s all-but forgotten werewolf movie Wolf, the TV show The Outer Limits and, most famously, in Blade Runner. This building is a movie-star and will make everyone who works there feel like an A-lister. What could be more inspiring in Tinsel Town?

Spectre, Tokyo
Cool Office 6 Spectre Tokyo

Although it’s primarily a secret organisation, which has never been entirely clear about the sources of its funding, Spectre – which stands for the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion – has spent vast amounts of money on building spectacular bases in unusual locations.

There’s the Oberhauser base in a meteor crater in the Sahara, for example, the biological research centre perched on top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps and, most famously of all, there’s the rocket silo they built inside a volcano in Japan.

That’s so impractical, it’s not so much outside the cubicle thinking as out-of-your-mind thinking. But, Spectre’s innovative and committed engineers figured it out and the result is truly spectacular. Having a rocket launch from your central atrium is even more exciting than taking a slide down to a finance meeting.

It has to be said that Spectre’s record in HR leaves something to be desired; they are inclined to refer to colleagues as ‘henchmen’ and their pension provision is virtually non-existent, since very few of the henchmen live to retirement age. That said, the Spectre workplace is surprisingly cat friendly.


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