Stocked with an espresso machine and virtually every snack imaginable, Google Pittsburgh’s micro-kitchen is conveniently located next to other recreational spaces like the game room. “They’re finding that’s one way to keep their employees happy and it keeps them working,” says Price. “People are going to get food, but they’re also going to hang out, talk to other employees and share ideas. It’s a more strategic programming of space.”
These social areas frequently also double as work areas. One of Campbell’s clients, a large pharmaceutical company, installed large banquette-style seating with monitors in its 1,000-person cafeteria. “People can use them as work and lunch spaces. The intent is that it’s as much a meeting space as a traditional meeting room,” he says.
At the Boulder, Colo.-based advertising and design agency Moxie Sozo, having a fully-stocked kitchen and bar keeps boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers alike working well past 5 p.m. “We work hard—60, 80 hours a week, and many late nights and weekends,” says Moxie Sozo Creative Director Leif Steiner. “When you’re working that hard, you want a place to eat and sleep, and you don’t want to go home.” Their office also has a shower and sleeping bags packed away, just in case. Steiner says he’s even come back on a Friday night to find employees having a party at the bar.
Moxie Sozo’s whimsical office environment provides a stimulating backdrop that fuels employee creativity. “We’re paid to push the limits. Part of what it takes to create a memorable brand is activating someone’s dopamine system,” says Steiner. “We’ve gained thousands of hours of employee productivity simply because we’ve created an environment that we like to be in. People don’t feel like they’re actually at work; they feel like they’re playing. We’ve had clients say, ‘I want to live in your office.’”
Giving employees a space that transports them outside of their typical frame of mind can produce better results in their work. Offices are now including relaxation spaces, which can be as simple as a private “tranquility room” with serene surroundings, where employees can recharge, meditate or take a nap. Or it can be fun, like the giant suspended cargo net hammock that seats 15 at the Google Pittsburgh office. “If you don’t want to sit at your desk or chair, you can take a mental break here,” says Price.
These design concepts aren’t merely for novelty’s sake—they can help a company’s bottom line. “People call it a results-oriented work environment,” says Campbell. “Work how you want to work as long as your team knows what’s going on. It depends on how you deliver according to expectations.”
Margie Monin Dombrowski is a freelance
writer and interior design student based in Orange County, Calif. She frequently writes for interior design publications and creates copy for businesses on design topics. Find her online at www.margiemd.com.