The Modern Office: The Most Unique Places to Work

This post originally appeared on ShoreTelSky’s blog here.

Simon Dudley, Video Evangelist, LifeSize

by Simon Dudley, Video Evangelist, LifeSize

We’re living through a revolution in office design, as more and more companies realize that attracting and retaining employees in an increasingly global competition for the best and brightest takes more than free sodas in the office break room and the promise of Hawaiian-shirt Fridays.  Tech and creative companies in particular are in an arms race with each other to build the most comfortable, most functional, most attractive, and just plain coolest offices around – and that design ethos is also trickling down to telecommuting workers, who’ve come up with exciting new ways to turn their home offices into personal paradises.

We’ve tracked down some of the coolest workspaces around, from refurbished shopping malls to cardboard jungles to trendsetting homes.  Take a look, and see how your office stacks up against these incredible workplaces.

Rackspace’s Windsor Park Mall office. In 2007, when web-hosting firm Rackspace was looking for a new San Antonio campus to house its rapidly expanding workforce, they looked way, way outside the box: a derelict, graffiti-covered former shopping mall.  A hundred million dollars and five years later, their Central Texas HQ is one of the most buzzed-about office parks on the planet, boasting coffee bars, exercise rooms, and daily catering from local restaurants.  The fact that it still looks like a mall underneath its fresh paint and neon R2-D2 billboard just adds to its unique appeal. More here on how Rackspace offers unique benefits to employees.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Whitney for the New York Times

Pretty much any of Google’s headquarters. Google may be one of the most profitable and ubiquitous companies on the planet, but the company is still at the vanguard of the cool-office movement.  Singling out a favorite Google office would be like choosing a favorite Ninja Turtle, so we’re just including them all.  From their NYC office with its life-size taxi mural and soundproofed, instrument-laden jam session room to the Stockholm office that exudes ergonomic Scandinavian cool to their tech-nerd paradise in Taiwan’s signature Taipei 101 building, Google can teach the rest of the business world a thing or two about designing an employee-friendly workplace.

Photo Courtesy of Inc.com

Nothing’s Dutch HQ. Netherlands-based advertising firm Nothing proves that cool offices come in all shapes and sizes.  Unlike Rackspace and Google’s massive business parks, Nothing’s Amsterdam office is just 1,100 square feet, and it’s designed to emphasize the company’s founding belief that great ideas “come from nothing.”  Using nothing but 1,600+ feet of cardboard and some glue, the design team created a space that echoes the industrial latticework of classic turn-of-the-century business spaces, with exposed “iron” girders and ornate “wood” desks complementing old-school factory windows.  It’s a playful but serious space that undermines the phrase “seeing is believing;” after all, everything you see is a facsimile.

Photo Courtesy of Inc.com

Home offices. Not all home offices are paragons of savvy design, but just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to forego the cool, modern touches of companies like Nothing and Rackspace.  A little creativity and a trip to Ikea can yield a clean, Continental-style space like this, while some online shopping and a trip to the electronic store can bring your sci-fi fantasies to life. And with the availability of affordable video conferencing solutions, you can capture some of that tech-company cool without breaking the bank.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Shereboy

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