Main features: Twilio, a communications tools company based in San Francisco, envisions the idea of corporate coffee shops that offer employees free coffee, ambiance and a place to work without having to set foot in an office. The facility would be casual, with employees hopping on and off as and when they please during operating hours. Access would be restricted to employees. The coffee shop model would be for areas where businesses have smaller staffs and complements the large office centers.
“The reason you walk in is the same reason you might say, ‘I’m going to a coffee shop today because I just need a change of scenery,'” said Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio. “You’re leaving… because, ‘I want a coffee. I just want that buzz [of energy that’s] continues.'”
capelli: if Executives had a choice, why choose a coffee shop office that could be an unnecessary expense? “It’s a bit weird and romantic notion that we’re all sitting around drinking coffee and having ideas,” he said. “It would be easier to say why we don’t just rent a WeWork space or shared office when we need it.”
Cochran Hameen: The company’s cafe has a “cool factor” but may include design challenges such as: B. Ensuring adequate power outlets, private spaces and limiting noise. “It’s probably nothing [workers] would be enough for eight hours,” she said. “But it’s fine anyway.”
connection to nature
Main features: Salesforce’s Trailblazer Ranch is located on 75 acres in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, California. The room, which is intended as a retreat and external area for employees, is intended to complement the main office of the software company. It offers workers the opportunity to participate in guided nature walks, garden tours, group cooking classes, as well as yoga, art journalism and meditation.
“Our physical spaces serve a different purpose today than they did two years ago,” said Brent Hyder, Salesforce president and chief people officer. “A key part of our strategy is finding ways to empower our teams to come together and connect securely.”
capelli: Higher investments in retreats are not new, but they often fade when companies need to cut costs. “I don’t think anyone thought that was stupid,” he said of previous corporate retreat locations. “They thought it was extravagant.”
Cochran Hameen: The payout could be worth it for the limited number of companies that can afford a retreat. “Think about the costs in terms of employee health,” she said. “It’s the value of a person’s health.”
Corporate housing on campus
Main features: Google’s 1.1 million square foot Bay View campus based in Mountain View, California, sits on 100 acres — 20 of which are open space — and features two office buildings, a 1,000-person events center and 240 corporate housing for short-term employees. Google separated focus rooms and collaborative spaces by floor. All desks have access to natural daylight and outside views with lots of greenery throughout the office. Automated blinds open and close throughout the day, and the ventilation system uses 100 percent outside air versus recycled air.
“The process gave us a chance to rethink the very idea of an office,” said David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president of Real Estate and Workplace Services.
Cochran Hameen: The ventilation systems will not only help reduce Covid-19, but also prevent cold and flu germs from filtering through the workplace. But lodging options, while helpful, can also limit employees’ experience on business trips.
capelli: The campus is consistent with Google’s historic attempts to keep people in their offices by offering them more perks — be it free food or spaces designed to promote well-being. “Do I really want to work from home in my basement when I can be in this fabulous utopian space?” he said. “I think they do.”
Collaboration in the living room
Main features: PagerDuty, a digital operations management platform, has transformed its offices to accommodate events, collaboration, client visits and team meetings rather than individual head-down work, after opting for a hybrid office policy that allows employees to choose a work mode which suits them best. It removed two-thirds of its desks and divided the office into so-called “neighborhoods.” Each quarter, designed to look like a glorified living room or coffee shop, has open seating areas, a few desks, and a place for tea that employees can reserve. The office also features a conference room that sits in the middle of the open space to promote healthy air circulation.
“We basically said…we need to create a completely different atmosphere,” said Jennifer Tejada, PagerDuty President and CEO. “It has to be… more like that [the private membership club] Soho House and less like an office.”
Cochran Hameen: Remote working opportunities are a big selling point for workers and give companies like PagerDuty an edge. But managers will likely need to rethink employee reviews, moving from “watching them work” to a creative new method that works for the team.
capelli: Reservation models can create hiccups when planning and storing gear. This can create a planning nightmare, sometimes leading to overbooking and crowded rooms, and sometimes an empty office.
A versatile office
Main features: IBM’s three-story Toronto office is designed to be easily redesigned based on how the office is used every day. For quick layout changes, the technology company’s office has sliding walls, adjustable workstations and lightweight furniture. It also has nursing and changing areas, as well as meditation and prayer rooms. It is equipped with sensors that help the company monitor space usage and prevent bottlenecks.
“With our new hybrid way of working, it was very important to us to create a space that is designed for both convenience and collaboration,” said Dave McCann, president of IBM Canada.
Cochran Hameen: The moveable walls and adjustable space follow some of the ‘best practices’ for sustainability and energy efficiency, while breastfeeding rooms and changing areas could encourage more mothers to enter or stay in the labor market.
Capelli: The modular approach has historically been a cost-saving measure, but removing assigned desks often forces employees to carry all of their work items with them — an idea that was once popular but has faded. “It sounds like a good idea to the financiers,” he said. “The reason it died is because people hated it.”