The physical work environment affects the mental and social work environments – and all three of these impact employee productivity and engagement levels. Smart companies (like Google and Facebook) understand these intricate connections and they’re designing offices that are comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and foster inspiration, productivity and collaboration.
But Silicon Valley isn’t the only place with innovative work spaces. Below are five other companies taking the lead in designing the workplaces of the future.
Takeda is one of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in the world. It’s known for its innovative approach to medicine.
The design concept of the company’s new global headquarters is meant to tell a story, says Yasuhiro Fukutomi, Takeda’s head of corporate strategy. The building’s entrance represents the beginning of the story and symbolizes the “source of life”; the reception area depicts growth; and the aesthetics of the work areas are meant to represent the formation of fruitful connections.
The headquarters has a cutting-edge IT infrastructure and conference system to enhance internal communications among 30,000 colleagues worldwide. For face-to face meetings, there are a number of conference halls. Takeda’s Life Cafe provides employees with breakfast, lunch and light snack offerings throughout the day, and it can be used for casual meetings. Employees also have access to a multipurpose lounge floor that can be used anytime, for any reason.
Belatrix Software, a software development company, was recently recognized by Great Place to Work as a top place to work for millennials. Co-founder Alex Robbio says the company’s headquarters in Mendoza, Argentina, creates a perfect balance between historical architecture and modern and urban style.
However, its offices in Bogota, Colombia, provide more insight into how Belatrix appeals to millennials. “When building that office, we wanted to create a modern, fresh, vibrant and colorful space to reflect Belatrix’s youthful, high-tech culture,” Robbio says.
Robbio says it was important to provide plenty of meeting spaces and areas for employees to work together formally and informally. “Also, since it’s a youthful space, there are areas for relaxation, and enjoying time together — such as playing pingpong.” The office is also environmentally friendly, with several areas that harness natural daylight. “Our employees appreciate the aesthetic value of the building; the carved grills and the micro-cement coating that give personality to the office are examples of how the environment was carefully designed to foster excellence and passion for what we do.”
Digital Surgeons is an innovation and experience design company. The company is located in the District, an innovation campus in New Haven, Connecticut, that’s home to many other companies.
“Great change happens through a confluence of ideas and a diversity of perspectives, and that’s why … we wanted to create a space that allowed us to not only stay in Connecticut but also to attract high-level talent that wasn’t interested in the traditional cities, markets and working environments,” says Pete Sena, founder and CEO of Digital Surgeons and a co-founder of District.
Sena said the company couldn’t find an existing space that matched its vision, so they decided to build. District was designed around social impact, technology and innovation.
Every tenant has a fitness center and wellness membership for its employees, as well as access to an on-site restaurant and beer garden, an on-campus co-work space with weekly events, a kayak and paddleboard launch, and a walking trail.
Sena says District also provides opportunities for people to come together to share ideas and make an impact. “Whether you’re a long-term tenant on the campus or dropping in to the co-work space for the day, you have the opportunity to engage with people at every stage of the business life cycle and learn something new — or better yet, spark an idea for a new business,” Sena says.
When designing the new headquarters for Redtail Technology’s facility in Sacramento, California, CEO Brian McLaughlin says the company had several goals in mind. “First, we needed to accommodate the growth we continue to experience as a company, but we also wanted to preserve the open and collaborative work environment we’ve intentionally cultivated over the past 15 years.”
At the same time, McLaughlin says the company wanted to reward the staff with an incredible office environment. The new building was an extension of the ways appreciation is expressed to employees, including fully stocked kitchens and all-expenses-paid annual team-building trips.
The 28,000-square-foot facility was created by merging two warehouses — it’s open and reflects a sense of play and edginess. “Through the colors, graphics and lighting incorporated throughout, we’ve attempted to highlight the animating spirit of Redtail, whose namesake was the CEO’s red-tailed golden retriever, along with our ever-forward progress as a leading tech company in the financial services industry,” McLaughlin says.
Bar-height tables seek to encourage collaboration. Some of the more playful elements include a game lounge featuring a Nigel Sussman mural and a mezzanine with a slide as a way to exit the lounge area. “Also, we encourage employees to bring their dogs with them to work, where during breaks they can take them out to the attached dog park to play,” McLaughlin says.
West Coast Seeds
West Coast Seeds is an agricultural seed company, and its office is a converted barnhouse on a British Columbia farm. The 16-acre property is on a rural road, and the company thought the heritage barn would provide a blank canvas to design the perfect work environment from the ground up to fit its ideals of sustainability and environmentalism.
The barn incorporates 12,000 square feet on two levels. “We installed motion-activated LED lighting in all the office areas, and low-flow plumbing to extend water use,” says general manager Alex Augustyniak.
The offices are arranged in an open-space design to encourage collaboration, and the staff is encouraged to share ideas across departments. There’s a farmhouse that’s used as a meeting place and conference center. “Outside the two-story house is an area devoted to feeding and observing wild birds on the farm. On the other side of the house is a small fruit orchard and some honeybee hives,” Augustyniak says.
Augustyniak says one perk of the new office is the ability to get up from his computer and walk around on the grounds to clear his mind. “The peaceful rural scene offers a terrific respite from our very busy warehouse and communications center,” he says.
There’s no standard blueprint for the office of the future. What’s best for one organization might not work in another company. However, these five companies reveal that a well-designed environment can provide a workplace that meets your needs as well as the needs of your employees.