In a city where start-ups cropping up in unlikely 1BHKs is becoming a trend of sorts, and the bickering for space never stops, come take a look at offices around the world where the work spaces have seamlessly imbibed the ethos of the companies to create a work environment where everyone is on the same proverbial page. From open spacious work areas to rooftop breakouts with sunbeds, and tech vending machines to well-stocked kitchen areas on every floor - these are the kind of office areas that are almost custom-made to suit the needs of their employees. There are creative and easy-to-personalise spaces, giving employees plenty of elbow room to express themselves and all of this comes together in a pretty package of an ultimately productive work space that we all aspire to be a part of one day.
Until we get there, though, let’s satiate our envy with snooping through the office spaces of these 12 companies, all of whom are reaching for soaring new benchmarks in their respective spheres, from their highly customised cribs.
This Swedish online audio distribution company based in Berlin is a life-saver, doubling up as a perpetual tab open in most laptops; Soundcloud, according to data collected in December 2014, attracts 175 million unique monthly listeners, while content creators upload about 12 hours worth of audio every single minute. Soundcloud’s new headquarters in Berlin are spacious and emit an unaffected professionalism with plenty of quirks. Sprawled over 2,910 sq. ft of space, Soundcloud’s office is located in ‘Factory’, a campus bang in the middle of Berlin’s burgeoning tech scene, overlooking a view of the Berlin War Memorial. With a capacity of 200 employees, 16 conference rooms varying in design and size are options to choose from in this space and there is even a wood-burning fireplace area that has been demarcated as a tech-free zone.
Sound equipment is something you don’t have to worry about around this office either. “As an audio company, we have naturally focused on making sound a key part of our working environment, with top AV equipment and a dedicated recording studio to ensure our new home sounds as good as it looks,” Community Manager Noel told Business Insider. Apparently, there are also talks are in order for the tech community to gain access to these offices for hackathons and meet-ups.
HG loves: Amidst the onslaught of technology, Soundcloud still finds small ways to be eco-friendly with couch cushions made of hemp and coconut lying scattered around the office and a considerable part of the acoustic boundaries being made from Heraklite, an eco-friendly insulation material.
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Pinterest’s office, located in the SoMa area of San Francisco, is much like the website itself - peppered with curios and knick-knacks, and teeming with creative touches in different ways. With a games and crafts room, the odd button flower-pot and tons of cosy seating areas, this office is bound to set your creative muscles flexing. According to Business Insider, the employees - or ‘pinployees’ as they’re called have myriad passions and hobbies as diverse as martial arts, bike-fixing, lock-picking, ballet and jam-jarring.
Teeming with live plants, whimsical touches and large spaces that aren’t necessarily conventional ‘desk spaces’, this office space also has an entire wall dedicated to a map to track where its offices are. With random hot air balloons, celebratory boards for major updates and a nicely stocked snack bar, Pinterest’s employees work out of a space that never lets them forget how to have fun.
HG loves: The yarn-bombed pipe, the Art Deco theatre-like board that welcomes you and the “You’re my pinpiration” graphic are in are really nice touches.
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Various whiteboards and chalkboards lie scattered around cloud storage company Dropbox’s 85, 000 sq ft campus, with intricate drawings done by Dropbox’s own employees. This office space, located in the China Basin district of San Francisco, has a band room called ‘The Mint’, named after a SF karaoke bar, with a bunch of employees even having gotten together to start a Motown band called ‘The Syncopations’.
Each of the conference rooms here comes with their own names and stories, with QR codes that convey them. Bickering with IT guys is a thing of history here, with vending machines dispensing to employees anything from a cord to a keyboard. One of Dropbox’s mottos is apparently, ‘It just works.’ Well, we can definitely see why.
HG loves: The fact that Executive Chef Brian Mattingly, who has previously worked at Google, Apple, and Michelin Star restaurants, along with his team never ever repeats a meal at the campus cafeteria called ‘Tuckshop’. There are also well-stocked snack refrigerators scattered all over the office in case you get peckish.
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Etsy sets the tone from the moment you walk into the fifth-floor office on 55 Washington Street, Brooklyn, with a passageway lined with live plants leading to a reception desk made with found and recycled materials. The online marketplace that has earned its street cred in hosting crafts and other artistic creations, has more than 1 million active sellers today, with Etsy’s main revenue coming from charging sellers a nominal amount to list their product for four months, and then 3.5% of the sale.
Etsy employees work in an airy, spacious space as yarn-bombed pipes criss-cross over them, and are even given a stipend when they join the company with which they can buy art off the website. The office space is scattered with knick-knacks and art pieces from local artists, and artists they host on the site, making it a potpourri of creativity. Employees are also given white lab coats that they can personalise as they want, secluded working areas and there’s a printed wall full of Etsy product ideas above the eating area.
HG loves: How much creative legroom employees get to customise their spaces to create an environment that they need to function at their optimum.
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This Los Angeles-based startup aims at making household products with a conscience, and its office space is replete with adorable touches reflecting their ethos. Their products are aesthetically on display at several corners of the office, with a jungle gym finding its way into the office where ‘mommy bloggers’ are invited to get their kids as they try out Honest products. Founded by friends Christopher Gavigan and Sean Kane, ShoeDazzle founder Brian Lee and actress Jessica Alba in 2011, Honest focuses on creating household and baby products that are eco-friendly and non-toxic, and they seem pretty serious about their driving force, with their manifesto printed all over the walls of one room, and on the steps of a staircase leading upstairs.
”We started the company with this mission of helping to create a nontoxic world,” Lee, CEO of the Honest Company, told Business Insider. “We strategically decided to go in baby and family first because we knew that was an area of awakening for a lot of mothers, like my own wife.”
Jessica Alba, who was closely involved with designing the spaces, wanted to the conference rooms to feel like living rooms, which have given the whole office a very homey feel.
HG loves: Their commitment to natural ingredients in their products, and references to being eco-friendly to be found everywhere, such as the ‘Tree of Life’ in the main office, the branches of which are made up of individual photos of the employees.
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Designed by Rapt Studio, the guys behind the offices of Google, Adobe and Eventbrite, the jaw-dropping offices of online real estate platform Trulia sprawled over six floors and 80, 000 sq ft of space are located in San Francisco. That they are in real estate is something that manifests itself through their design, as each landing as you get off the lift showcases a wall with an elaborate array of home accessories such as house numbers that come in various fonts and sizes, knockers and doorknobs on respective floors.
Over 80 places exist where employees could steal away to meet and work, and according to Rapt Studio’s main man Lucas Martin, trees were the focal inspiration behind the design of the office, with the rooms arranged in concentric circles, and large cracks in the roof reminiscent of those present in real wood.
”A tree was the big idea behind the planning,” Lucas Martin told Business Insider. “The users represented the rings. The more rings, the stronger the community.”
HG loves: The variety of facilities available to the employees such as game rooms, a beer and coffee bar and our favourite – a full kitchen, communal dining area and a cosy-looking library on every floor.
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Lyft brings its trademark pink moustaches wherever they move, down to each last thick follicle. Their new, three-floor headquarters in San Francisco. One of the prominent players in the ride-sharing industry today, Lyft has created an office space that recognises the value of both working hard and taking a break. Thick strands of moustache hair, made out of foam noodles and pink fabric are suspended from the ceiling through the entrance and the lifts, which are also dog-friendly, are covered in fur that is Lyft’s signature pink, compelling you to never disassociate these from the company again.
Stadium seating on the ground floor and small cosy corners created out of couches, bean bags and coffee tables let employees get comfortable and catch some downtime between brainstorms, and the rooftop area offers a panoramic view of San Francisco’s Mission District over meals or meetings with colleagues. The main space that they work out of houses a seating arrangement with adjustable standing desks, in the spirit of collaboration and flexibility, and teams can customise their spaces to create an environment that they find creatively conducive.
HG loves: The walls of Lyft’s offices are adorned with paintings of the employee’s favourite childhood stories, but when you push on the one with Willy Wonka, it opens into a secret library that is a quiet, phone-free haven with plenty of photographs of men with enviable moustaches on display.
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Yes, yes, we know – Spotify isn’t available in India. But that doesn’t take away from our admiration of their office space. The company, which has blossomed from eight employees in Stockholm in 2007, now has 11 offices around the world and this one, which overlooks the NYC skyline, houses 300 employees in itself.
There are no walls at the Spotify office, everyone works out of an open area that is scattered with desks, chairs and couches, and in case things get too noisy – employees are welcome to head down over to the tech vending machines and get themselves a pair of earphones. This might come in handy considering there’s a jam area in the office as well. The game room, which we’re finding out is a staple with startups, is a space where people can play video games after a long day, and there are even pool and ping-pong tables.
HG loves: How Spotify’s office is just left-of-field in every way – avoiding desk lunches with bar-like set up near the kitchen, graffiti done by local street artists all over the office and sun beds on the open deck with the commanding view so that everyone gets some sun.
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Zulily, the daily deals site for women’s and home products, started off as a children’s clothes and accessories online store and has about 3.7 million active customers today.
Zulily has got to be one of the most self-sustainable companies with the company launching 100 new sales every day which means that photo shoots are always underway for the homepage of the site. Stylists create new sets in-house, and the models are often the employees and their kids or family friends. The bright décor and playing areas stocked toys keep the kids comfortable and entertained as the employees bustle around getting things done.
“We’re always making fun and interesting new sets,” Zulily’s Laura Jones tells Business Insider. “That’s part of how we keep customers coming back every day.”
HG loves: The kind of attention that is given to the employees and the children both, to create an environment where productivity can flourish.
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Despite being bought by Apple recently, in news that sent waves through the tech community, Beats Electronics’ two-building 105, 000 sq ft campus hasn’t revoked its groove for the clean monochromatic minimalism of Apple. Their headquarters, located in Culver City, California, create an open, comfortable working environment with several of the rooms and corridors painted bright solid colours, with a majestic golden staircase connecting two floors in one of the buildings.
Architect Barbara Bestor explained to Business Insider that the idea was to move away from the ‘adolescent-like interior that is prevalent in Silicon Valley’, comparing it to a chic college campus instead.
”I think office environments, Silicon Valley or not, can often be quite generic or overly branded and we really wanted to make a campus that felt diverse spatially,” she said. “We want the architecture to provide moments of respite, energy, communality but not to dominate the work environment.”
HG loves: Listening stations are ubiquitous, where employees can try out some Beats, and one of the rooms has white-boards for walls, which are perfect for brainstorming and can eventually be wiped clean before you come in for round two.
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There’s pet-friendly offices, and then there’s BarkBox’s refurbished New York City offices. The startup that delivers monthly packages of dog treats and toys has an office space that is designed to accommodate our canine friends as much as it is designed to suit the professional needs of its employees. The kitchen is stocked with snacks for everyone, and there are apparently at any given time, at least 5 dogs hanging out in the area, with a green space designed to give part of the room a grassy feel.
”BarkBox’s last office was divided into many rooms, so it was important with this one that we shoot for a more open working environment. Not only does this make for a more collaborative space, but it creates a sense of community and made it easy to bring an outdoor feel in,” Casey Debois, who designed the Barkbox office, said to Business Insider. “Working at a startup can oftentimes be demanding, so it’s important to have spaces for both relaxing and focusing, working and just enjoying yourself.”
HG loves: The vertical lounge wall, one of the breakout areas, that has got to be one of the most unique features to have been a part of an office, a space where employees can work and hang out with the dogs at the same time.
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Moving up from a building where the team used to do their dishes in a bathtub, Kickstarter recently relocated its office space to a historic building in Brooklyn that used to be the Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory. Kickstarter’s office spaces are very much in line with their ideologies, with plenty of sustainable materials used in the reconstruction of the space, such as the building’s insulation which also intriguingly happens to be edible.
There are plenty of open working areas downstairs, while the upstairs areas seem to be mostly for unwinding, with cane lounge chairs and a rooftop garden sprawling over 8, 500 sq ft that grows herbs, vegetables and other plants, all from the NYC area, with a unique irrigation system that helps carry rainwater to the plants on all the levels of the building. The dining area is a tribute to the city diner where the co-founders, Yancey Strickley and Perry Chen first met, and where employees come together to have meetings, eat and brainstorm now.
HG loves: How Kickstarter has incorporated elements of so many of their projects into their office space, an ode from what is itself a startup, to the various projects they have managed to help take off with their crowdfunding site for innovative ventures.
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Words: Aditi DharmadhikariResearch & Compilation: Pranay Gopinath/ Sanyukta Shetty