If you’ve made the round in office buildings in your city or around the country and world, then you know that most are high on productivity and low on aesthetic and functional beauty.
Recently though, Inc.com injected some hope into an otherwise grey-tone world when they released an article about some of today’s most distinctive modern office spaces: World’s Coolest Offices of 2016.
The spaces showcase unique and stimulating workspaces meant to encourage creative thought and collaboration.
Rather than give you an in-depth informational journey about one or two companies, we’ve decided to pull some of the more interesting facts about all 10 companies. Hopefully, what we’ve included here will spark ideas for changing parts – or all – of your company’s workspace.
Taking up shop in the famous Rossio Railway Station, startup Uniplaces, which focuses on the student-housing market, created a workspace filled with wall gardens accented by breath taking views of Lisbon.
We consider Uniplaces the most innovative of the offices on this list because a giant hammock-style net hangs above the workspace. Aside from the visual element, the net provides a place for employees to relax.
Another cool feature: a hidden library nook.
Uniplaces’ Lisbon office offers employees and guests alike a unique blend of historical chic and playground shenanigans to create a space that truly invites people to think outside the box.
Located in bustling Singapore, Airbnb’s Asia headquarters features a modern Seattle-style café with dark overhangs and wood-based furniture.
The building’s design marries a flair of traditional Singaporean architectural themes and a clubhouse amphitheater (which includes little reading nooks) for team meetings. Airbnb aims to be on the cutting edge of classy and childlike to help employees express themselves freely.
Not to be outdone, digital titan AKQA’s Tokyo office discreetly illustrates how to use verticality and limited natural sunlight to one’s advantage.
While slightly underground, AKQA makes use of illuminating whites and contrasting wood and charcoals to keep the mind engaged, leaving one with the feeling that there is still more work to be accomplished.
With multi-level work areas and an entryway littered with teardrop lightbulbs against a dark background, you can’t help but feel like there is always a new idea waiting to be discovered and mastered while working at AKQA.
Harmonic (Caesarea, Israel)
Israeli video production company Harmonic’s office illustrates how listening to your employee’s ideas can pay off.
With a relaxing balance of natural materials, blues, yellows, and greys, Harmonic’s Caesarea office invites employees to explore “unfinished” open areas and private enclaves to help inspire a constructive attitude of ingenuity and optimism.
These in-transition spaces also speak to the concept that Harmonic’s work is never truly finished.
Etsy’s Brooklyn office, like Etsy itself, is littered with whimsical creations imbued with color from its employees and content creators. Like many of the previous entries on the list, weathered wood structures and lush wall gardens are scattered about a white backdrop.
However, unlike the previous offices, Etsy has an amazing view of surrounding Brooklyn, with tables and lounge chairs strewn about to help employees take in the magnificent skyline and gain inspiration.
De Alliantie (Hilversum, Netherlands)
Characterized by vertical open spaces and a Harmonics-esque “unfinished” aesthetic, De Alliantie’s Hilversum office creates a space where employees can constantly seek and enact new ideas, while at the same time providing a functional and relaxing work environment.
Bright surfaces near windows and work stations are a cheery contrast to the building’s sleek, noir elevator bank, almost creating the feeling of leaving a sullen event.
Gensler’s Oakland office effectively uses an entire penthouse to house their employees in spaces that provide extensive sunshine and flexible workstations to allow for maximum creativity and productivity.
Large open spaces are accented by chic conference rooms that encourage intimate collaboration while also allowing the creative use of space with glass doors and drapes.
Most impressive though is a conference room that makes use of an unhindered view of the Bay Area skyline. Like the other offices we’ve mentioned so far, Gensler uses its surroundings to provide excellent views as a palate for inspiration.
Gem (Venice Beach)
Sporting a contemporary fireplace, sleek leather doors and local psychedelic art, this Venice Beach office just may stand above the rest.
CEO Micah Winkelspecht positions his workstation at the office entrance, helping to welcome new clients and employees alike. The cherry on top for this this eclectic company is its bank vault door, adding another layer of oddity and intrigue you simply don’t see in other offices.
VCG (Riga, Latvia)
Latvian consulting firm VCG makes use of contrasting dark furniture mixed with dim temperamental lighting and striking geometric patterns, as if attempting to create a real life villain’s lair from a James Bond movie.
Illuminated walls and glass tables, accompanied by a starkly contrasting color palette, help to create a sense of whispered urgency that demands the whole team’s total devotion to achieve victory in their task.
Make (Carlsbad, Calif.)
Lastly, Make’s Carlsbad office isn’t afraid to take advantage of its Southern California locale, making use of local fauna and outdoor open spaces for walkways and communal events.
As with many of the offices on this list, Make takes advantage of an on-site café for staff to relax and recharge. However, this café isn’t tucked into the corner of a workspace. It’s actually housed inside a shipping container surrounded by high tables and layered walkways.
Takeaways from Some of the World’s Most Interesting Office Spaces
Taking a brief glimpse at Inc.com’s top 10 best offices reveals that allowing employees creative freedom as well as providing a stimulating work environment can help teams achieve their goals in engaging and productive ways.
While not every office can have a hanging-net hammock, companies can and should make efforts to empower employee creativity as well as creating an uplifting environment, even if that means just letting more light in.