A look inside five of the world's most innovative offices
Though their locations and markets differ wildly, there are some common themes that unite some of the world’s most innovative offices. More than just building social areas and open-plan spaces for everyone all at once, they consider every worker. They shape areas for creativity, provide tools for collaboration, and recognise the importance of social interaction for productivity.
Here are five companies that have created the most incredible spaces. Some are wild and musical, while others are tech-heavy and plugged in. They use connectivity in interesting ways and build structures around the innovation they want to include. Each one has built a space that reflects their company’s purpose and goals.
They give their employees an environment in which to thrive and meet and share and blow up their ideas, but they understand that sometimes we need to work quietly on our own, too.
It’s easy to connect at Microsoft
Software giant Microsoft’s new Munich office is made to connect people. With a focus on collaboration, it offers tools and spaces to suit everyone’s different working styles, and to bring together staff from across disciplines and interest areas.
There are no fixed workspaces at Microsoft Munich. Zones have been created to suit every kind of task, from group brainstorming to solitary focus and everything in between. Free- or hot-desking allows everyone to choose their desired location to fit with the work they’re doing that day. The spaces themselves are flexible, so they can physically change with employee needs.
Microsoft also uses indoor positioning to better understand how their workforce uses the building. Indoor tracking technology means it’s easy to see what’s occupied, where people are congregating, which areas are underutilised and more. This technology also allows staff members to find each other using their mobile phones, to further enhance the connected workplace.
IAG brings people together in shared zones
As Australia and New Zealand’s largest general insurance company, IAG needs its offices to foster effective communication and productivity. Their Darling Park, Sydney, office is a hub of fit-for-purpose spaces, from collaboration ‘destinations’ to social areas and rooms for quiet concentration. A central staircase connects the fourteen floors and all its spaces, creating a central area for socialising and communicating.
As part of their vision for agility and innovation, IAG prioritises flexible working and transitioning to the future of work. Their combination of formal and informal spaces means they can adapt to every kind of working style and fulfil this goal. Staff needing flexibility can choose to a hot-desk option, while others are able to focus outside of the open-plan environment. There’s speech privacy between spaces, mechanical services noise control, and private areas for sensitive meetings.
The whole idea is brought together by Indigenous art and contemporary architecture, making it a smart, lively building with people at its heart.
Spotify’s Stockholm HQ puts its passion for music to work
You could be forgiven for thinking Spotify’s Swedish office is an entertainment complex. In keeping with the company vibe, there’s an arcade, a lush café-lounge, a karaoke room, a theatre, on-site recording studios and actual arts-and-crafts tables. But it’s all part of their plan for a creative, collaborative and energetic space for employees.
The spacious interior includes expansive meeting rooms and social spaces, designed to encourage conversation and bring ideas to life. Staff can choose to work in a range of flexible zones, from free-desks to fishbowls and rooms for focusing to a rooftop area with views over Stockholm.
Their global head of human resources, Katarina Berg, said in an interview that their offices are “an extension of our culture and part of our employer branding strategy.” And they are – Spotify fully embraces its passion for sound with a slick penthouse bar, a games room and an area for live music.
Telstra HQ is a hub of connectivity
Australia’s biggest telco is connecting people in new ways in the heart of Melbourne. A major upgrade, in collaboration with Investa, is designed to support Telstra’s transition to Future Ways of Working – a more flexible and collaborative work ethos and environment.
The building, at 242 Exhibition Street, incorporates next-generation working solutions for a dynamic work environment that puts people at the centre. With the support of Organic Response, employees enjoy a more flexible, agile and comfortable workplace. Smart devices and IoT services, including a cutting-edge lighting control platform deliver an autonomous, sustainable facility that responds and adapts as the spaces are utilised.
BMW brings its motoring innovations to the office
Munich is a popular place for next-generation offices, and BMW’s Welt facility is no exception. Deliberately planned to promote cross-functional working, like others it offers a range of facilities for collaboration, socialising and quiet focus.
There are no right-angled walls in this facility. BMW blend elements of nature with an industrial feel, incorporating bright colours and textures to excite the mind.
The Welt building is designed to support workers from start to finish, giving equal attention to every working style. There are brainstorming areas for those exciting early stages, before moving into tinker labs to build prototypes and see their work in action. When the idea moves forward, groups can use smaller focus areas, or come together as a team in one of three large primary workspaces. There’s even enough space to bring in an entire BMW car.
More than ever, companies have the opportunity to create workspaces with their employees in mind. Not every office building needs a multiplex theatre or go-kart track, but there are things every business can do to personalise a space that’s comfortable and designed with intention.
Fitting out a well-connected building with good tech choices will help you nurture a workforce that’s happier, more satisfied and more productive.