Offices are no longer simply places to work; a rising number of these environments are being kitted out to appeal to employees on a much broader level. From bars, to gyms, to sleeping areas, here are five increasingly popular office features that are blurring the lines between work and leisure.
You and your colleagues may enjoy hitting the bars after work from time to time, but what if you didn’t have to wait until 5pm to get the pub feeling? It’s not just the booze that makes bars popular. The whole setup of these environments can help to make people feel positive, partly because they encourage social interactions. For example, thanks to tall bar stools and tables, people who sit and stand are often at the same eye level.
Office designers have switched onto this phenomenon and some are now incorporating bar-height tables and seating into workspaces. The idea is that this will create a more free-flowing atmosphere and get people who may not otherwise interact to exchange ideas. Certain companies are taking this idea a step further by embracing the full bar effect. At its New York office, content creation platform Ceros has designed an area dedicated to the British pub, complete with craft beer. It’s used as a place where employees can go for some peace and quiet during the day, and in the evenings it turns into a hub for socialising and unwinding.
Providing fitness equipment for employees to use during their breaks or before or after work is nothing new, but in the past this often meant finding a dark corner of the office, placing a couple of treadmills and some weights in there and simply hoping staff members would use it. Now, businesses are taking their in-work gyms to a whole new level. In a bid to appeal to health-focused employees, they are providing much more comprehensive and attractive fitness centres. These office gyms can boast lots of natural light and a variety of fitness machines, weights and cardio options.
Apple is one organisation that understands the potential benefits of investing in these office features. At its California headquarters, it has a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness centre. As well as a gym, it features a large yoga room where people can go to de-stress. Meanwhile, at its Texas headquarters, oil and gas firm ExxonMobil offers its workers a basketball court where they can go to burn calories and socialise.
Lots of people like the sense of tranquillity they find in public libraries, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that these reading rooms are finding their way into more and more offices. As well as being places where employees can go to gather their thoughts or focus on tasks that require high levels of concentration, libraries can help people to expand their knowledge.
Not one to be left behind, analytics software company SAS offers its workers a library at its headquarters that contains 10,000 books. Meanwhile, music streaming service Spotify has created a library area for its personnel in Manhattan that features Victorian décor complete with portraits of poets created by local artists.
- Rest areas
Open plan offices are notoriously noisy. Highlighting this point, a poll of 1,200 workers conducted by Oxford Economics in 2016 found that what people most craved in their workspace was quiet. To help satisfy employees’ demand for peace, some companies now provide designated areas away from the hubbub of the main office where staff members can go to have a break from the noise. A number of organisations are taking this principle a step further and offering their employees the chance to take naps at work by providing areas with comfy couches or even hammocks.
One such business is Thrive Global. The wellness company provides a sleeping room where people can go to catch some shuteye. Its founder Arianna Huffington believes these areas will eventually be as common as boardrooms as organisations switch onto their benefits.
- Shops and cafes
You might be used to nipping out of the office at lunchtime if you need to do some shopping or you want to sit and relax in a café. Some people don’t have to leave their workspaces in order to enjoy these amenities though. To offer added convenience to their personnel, a handful of big companies are experimenting with introducing eateries and retail outlets into their premises.
Internet giant Google is one such organisation. It’s currently working on a new campus that is set to include shops, restaurants and cafes. These facilities will be open to the public as well as staff members. The company wants its campus to be a destination for the local community.
By blurring the line between work and leisure through your office design, you can create a workplace that people find convenient, fun and pleasurable to use. Of course, incorporating features such as shops, yoga studios or full-scale libraries in your workplace may not be a feasible approach. However, you could take inspiration from these ideas and include certain elements of them in your own workplace.
For instance, why not create a quiet area with the help of some strategically placed office screens? You may also want to provide an informal breakout zone for your employees to use. We offer a variety of breakout furnishings, including lounge chairs, modular seating and meeting pods. If you have enough space, you could also invest in fitness equipment and provide a workout area for your staff to use.
Adapting your office in these ways will require some planning and investment, but it could help you to recruit and retain the best employees - and as an added benefit it may help to increase productivity within your organisation.