Dave: Good morning. I’m looking for Ms. Brannigan.
Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?
Dave: Yes. She should be expecting me, although I’m a touch early.
Receptionist: Can I ask your name?
Dave: It’s David Adams.
Receptionist: Ok, hold on a second. (makes a call) Hi, Samantha, there’s a gentleman here to see you, a David Adams. Ok…Ok…(puts phone down) She’ll be right with you. You can take a seat for a minute. Would you like anything to drink? Tea? Coffee? Water?
Dave: Just some water is fine. Thank you.
Samantha: Hi Dave, how are you? Did you find it OK?
Dave: No problem.
Samantha: Come on through, I’ll give you the tour. (in office) Right, this is the main office, and as you can see it’s open-plan. My desk is that one there, by the window.
Dave: Nice view.
Samantha: The boss’s office is at the back, although he is on a business trip right now. Actually, the office is pretty quiet today: the interns are at a training session, and the marketing department are away on some team-building course.
Dave: How long have you been based here?
Samantha: It must be a couple of years now. I really prefer it to our last place. That was a depressing office, pretty soul-destroying. This is much better. We even have a kitchen and a games room.
Dave: A games room? What sort of games?
Samantha: Fussball, table tennis. Oh, and a games console hooked up to a projector. Some of the staff like to have game nights, but I’m not much cop at computers.
Dave: I wish I worked here.
The difference between my office and my friend’s office is like chalk and cheese. Whereas my friend gets to go to work in casual clothes, I have to wear a shirt and tie every day; and whilst her office is open-plan, everyone in my office has a cubicle, making it difficult to talk to co-workers. My friend’s boss allows the staff to work flexi-time, but at my office it is Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and everyone has to clock in. Her office also has a kitchen, a games room, a rooftop garden and a rest area with beds and beanbags. Mine has a water cooler. I get the feeling my boss doesn’t really like the staff.
Having a pleasant work environment is important for staff morale, and increasingly companies are trying to turn offices into places that employees want to go, rather than have to go. There is an old adage – ‘a happy worker is a productive worker’ – and many employers now are showing more imagination than merely offering free coffee and occasional office outings.
America’s software giants are famous for their office environments. The idea of people working at computers in cubicles is seen as old-fashioned and counter-productive; instead, offices offer both home-comforts and things to keep workers interested, such as games rooms, quality restaurants, gardens, fountains, and even beds. Facebook has a DJ booth in its offices, and Apple’s offices are set out like an entire university, including a theatre, a gym, and a basketball court, giving it the name ‘Apple Campus’. Google’s California office also includes many of the aforementioned items, but also has a piano, laundry rooms, 2 swimming pools, beach volleyball courts, and even a large dinosaur statue.
Other strange things to find in offices are: a skate bowl (Comvert’s Milan office, built in an old cinema), slides instead of stairs (many places, including Red Bull’s London HQ and Corus Quay in Toronto), indoor running track, football pitch, and a concert hall (Dtac in Bangkok), a lot of Lego (Lego offices), walls to write on (many places, including Loop in Salzburg, Austria), huge toy car race tracks, a pirate ship and a tree house (Davison Design and Development’s ‘Inventionland’ office in Pittsburgh), and personal bubbles instead of offices (Pons and Huet in Paris).
Finally, British company onebestway made the news in 2009: with the company facing difficult times, something was needed to improve staff morale. One idea was ‘Naked Friday’, in which staff worked with no clothes on. The staff agreed, and afterwards said the day was enjoyable. Making the news also greatly helped the company’s PR.
*Learn more at http://oddstuffmagazine.com/strange-offices-in-the-world-you-will-not-believe.html