It is always interesting to see how certain companies try to use their buildings and facilities to lure and retain talented people. That was one of the reasons that EnCana wanted to build something as amazing and unique as the Bow, and it probably did help convince some people to work for them over the competition across town or across the street. If you had a choice wouldn’t you want to work in a building that is a tourist attraction?
Here is an interesting article that explains what some of the biggest tech giants have for buildings and their motivations for building them.
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The Pixar Campus is a great example for an innovative office
Can an innovative office make a successful company?
For the movie studio Pixar, the answer is yes. When the company outgrew their old office, the management was aiming for a creative work environment. In his must read “Creativity Inc.” Pixar CEO Ed Catmull describes the process of creating a new headquarter. Steve Jobs took the lead and crafted every detail of the new office building. The building is by now even called “Steve’s movie” by the employees. One key aspect of the innovative office is to encourage random encounters. There are central meeting places and spaces for creative freedom. Employees are encouraged to decorate their work stations. Almost everything about the building is drilled to boost the creative output. Pixar shares some impressions on it’s webpage.
Apple Campus 2
Apple Campus 2 – Another well designed Apple product
In the 1990s than Apple CEO John Scully build the first big headquarter at 1 Infinity Loop in Cupertino. It was functional but fragmented and reportedly Steve Jobs hated it. Since the company outgrew the offices they had to find something new. For years Apple was buying land secretly in the center of Cupertino. The plan was to build a giant open office space, shaped like and UFO. At a hearing at the city council, Steve Jobs revealed its plan. Like other Apple products the new office space is crafted with perfectionism. The technique to bend glass to the rounded corners of the building had to be invented. On 260.000 sqm Apple will fit 12.000 people in one single building. This shall improve communication. The open structure moreover aims for better collaboration.
Facebook Campus – A social working place for a social network
A good 20 minutes from the Apple headquarter lies the central of Facebook. This innovative office was opened in 2011. It has space for 9.000 employees. The area it covers are mere 24 ha. From the outside it appears like a gigantic colorful storehouse. It follows the trend of great open spaces and opportunities for random encounters. In addition, it lays more emphasis on short distances than the Apple-UFO. For the outstanding architecture Facebook employed star architect Frank Ghery.
Googleplex – Mother of all headquarters
Google opened a new office in 2004 in Mountain View. Formally this was Silicon Graphics grounds. The legendary workstation creator founded by Jim Clark. During the rebranding in 2015 it was one of the first buildings using the new Google logo. Since the structure already existed, Google put quite some effort in making it an innovative office. The redesign of the old buildings appears now like an amusement park. Google goes for diversity and initiatives on the campus. There are bikes, pools, gyms, solar panels, 18 canteens among others. The office space is “only” 47.000 sqm so it is slowly outgrown by the company.
How does a great campus support success?
To hire star architects is an expense only few companies can justify. To defer cubicles is a risk. On the other hand, to ask for out-of-the-box thinking is quiet a lot if employees are put into them for work. Surely skilled personal and superior management also contribute to company success. An innovative office space is not to make everything colorful. An innovative office enables innovative thinking. Aspects of that are the encouragement of communication. Facilitate random encounters. Allow employees to work in different environments. But also simple things like good lighting and noise reduction. To plan an innovative office is a lot of work. To manage it is as well. There is no single recipe for that. From clean Apple to wild Facebook architecture it has to support the company goals. Office space is the single biggest value statement of a company. Especially in Silicon Valley where the war for talent is tense an extravagant office can also serve as a recruiting measurement.