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15 Beautiful Workspaces to Inspire Your Office Makeover

workspace, work environment, work culture, office layout, productivity

I’ve seen more than my fair share of office spaces over the years.

From downright ugly call centres modelled on a ‘battery hen cage’ setups, to the most chic and über cool advertising agencies and design studios complete with beanbags, boardroom tables suspended from the ceiling by industrial-strength chains, and meeting rooms separated by back-lit, glass-brick aquariums.

Of course, there are some offices with a gorgeous European-style foyer, but when you take a peak behind the granite reception desk, waterfall and built-in flat screens, all you’ll find are boring cubicles with minimal natural light.

It’s time to get your office out of fluorescent lights and beige carpet and into open spaces and inspiring colours.

Why?

The work environment significantly affects productivity.  According to a Trendhunter study, the average employee spends 72 percent of working hours actually at their desk. while nearly 50% of workers say that they would stay an extra hour at work each day if the environment was attractive.

When ergonomic improvements are made to a worker’s environment, the productivity improvements can be up to 17%.

A work environment that is cluttered and ugly will distract employees from doing a great job.  A beautiful workspace can improve employee output significantly.

We’ve compiled 15 of the world’s most beautiful workspaces to inspire your office makeover.

1. Skype Palo Alto Office

Designed by San Francisco-based architecture firm Design Blitz, the Skype Palo Alto office showcases colourful, contemporary furniture alongside non-traditional designs such as fake grass and rocks.

The overall design connotes a fun work environment where creativity – lots of it – is encouraged.

Skype 1

Skype 2

2. Unilever Switzerland Office

Have you ever seen an office where workers have no assigned workstations?

The Unilever office in Switzerland does not assign specific workspaces for their employees. This practice is called Agile Working. Employees are encouraged to work anywhere in the office, whenever they want, as long as they get the work done.

To achieve this, Camenzind Evolution designed the office using vibrant colours and bold patterns and placed several desks and chairs around the office. Comfortable, colourful couches were also positioned around the office for employees who may feel more comfortable doing their tasks there.

Company mottos and company brands serve as décor within the work area. They are also meant to be used as motivational tools for employees.

Unilever

3. TBWA\Hakuhodo – Tokyo

This one I was lucky enough to see for myself.

The Japanese are known for their minimalist designs and the TBWA\Hakuhodo office in Tokyo is no exception. The structure, an old bowling alley within an eight-story amusement complex in the heart of Tokyo, was designed by architect Klein Dytham.

It is a large, open space made mostly of wood. A few potted plants are scattered within the workspace and furniture used for the office is simple and practical.

The design of this office reflects the Japanese concept of Zen which conveys simplicity in life.

TBWA 2

4. Microsoft Vienna Headquarters

Surprised to see Microsoft on the list?

This office, designed by INNOCAD Architektur, makes use of a combination of different design elements. The designer used vibrant colours throughout most of the space, giving it a contemporary vibe. The linear carpet emphasizes its modern look.

The workspace features a variety of themed conference and meeting rooms such as those with an ocean theme. All the rooms have comfortable, contemporary furniture that complement the overall design.

microsoft 1a

5. Lane Crawford Joyce Group Headquarters

I was also fortunate to have visited this office many times.

The Lane Crawford Joyce Group is a brand management and fashion retail company with a seven-floor office located in Hong Kong. The design features an eclectic combination of Asian and western cultures. In addition to the big, collaborative workspace for the company’s employees, the office has rooms such as the “press cage” library and beauty studio.

The mix of contemporary and vintage furniture in this workspace clearly shows that tradition can be successfully combined with modern methods.

LC 1

LC 2

6. The Cunningham Group Hayden Place Office

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of sustainability. The Cunningham Group is one of many companies strengthening its commitment to sustainability. The business owners are striving to do this by designing their California office according to the standards required for earning a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

Designers made use of sustainable materials and wooden décor produced by locals.

Employees can interact more easily in the office due to the open-floor design. There is a full kitchen for the staff as well as little alcoves where they can hang out. Unique features of this office are its indoor garden and the vegetable garden in the backyard.

Cunningham 1

Cunningham 2

7. AOL Office – Palo Alto

The AOL office in Palo Alto gives off a youthful vibe. Studio O+A designed the office stating, “O+A restored the space to a clean, white canvas—exposing the ceilings, stripping the walls to reveal the structure, and generally creating a spatial equivalent to the transparency that AOL was bringing to every aspect of its business.”

The kitchen area has bench-seating and plenty of light. There is a gaming and relaxation area. Dubbed as the “Town Hall,” it was built in the centre of the office to ensure that employees from the different departments will have a chance to interact during their breaks.

AOL 1

AOL 2

8. My Money Park – Basel and Zurich branches

Does money grow on trees? You might think it does when you enter My Money Park office.

OOS AG is responsible for the design of My Money Park, Basel and Zurich. The office was built with the main focus on the clients. Upon entry, you see eight “tree houses” (timber structures and floor-to-ceiling glass dividers hung with green curtain material), where clients are taken for one-on-one financial advisory sessions. These dividers maintain openness with the entire office unlike opaque walls that cuts one off from the rest of the workspace.

Comfortable wooden furniture complements the overall theme. OOS AG claim that tables were designed especially for MMP, “to help advisors and clients see eye to eye.”

MMP

9. The Studio by MAIO – Barcelona, Spain

Anna Puigjaner and Guillermo Lopez were tasked to renovate what used to be a launderette in Barcelona, Spain and turn it into “an open studio for professionals from different fields of architecture and design.”

The minimalist design of this 40-meter long building, incorporates sustainability and functionality with its open design concept. Due to the poor lighting of the old structure, a patio – which now serves as an outer room – was constructed to let natural light in. To achieve this, three new, large windows were opened in the patio.

Today, architects and designers enjoy this modern space without substantially changing a structure that remains a popular part of a neighbourhood in the heart of Barcelona.

MAIO 1

MAIO 2

10. POOL Inc. – Tokyo, Japan

Minimalism and innovation go together in the POOL Inc. office in Tokyo, Japan.

This ad agency’s workspace was designed by Tokyo-based Yoritaka Hayashi Architects.

The entire interior was painted white and translucent shelves, tables and chairs were put in place to help open up the small space. Large windows provide natural light which softens what would have looked like a sterile environment.

The futuristic look of this office also provides a fun workspace that encourages creativity.

POOL

11. Union Swiss Office – Cape Town, South Africa

Union Swiss Office is the global marketer of “bio-oil.” Inhouse Brand Architects was tasked by this skincare company to design a completely eco-friendly work environment that will adapt to the company’s continuous growth.

The sustainability of the structure is reflected in the self-sufficient bamboo garden and LED lighting as well as the mechanical skylight that allows natural air flow.

The combination of simplicity and elegant design makes this a beautiful and comfortable workspace for employees.

bio oil 1

bio oil 2

12. The LEGO Group – Denmark

Just hearing the name LEGO makes you think creativity – doesn’t it?

After all, the toy maker has been “engaged in the development of children’s creativity through playing and learning,” since 1932.

The company hired Bosch & Fjord to design its development department and they incorporated the company’s values into the new design: cooperation and knowledge sharing.

One feature of the development department is the reception desk that is part of the enormous, organically shaped table that winds through the room on the green floor. The table serves as a reception counter, a buffet and a dining table.

Lego 1

Lego 2

13. Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe’s London Offices

Warm, earth tones and subtle blues and greys are the colours used by TP Bennett LLP for the design of Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe’s London offices.

These colours and the soft lighting give the office an overall ambience of warmth. This helps greatly in putting clients at ease upon entering the place and helps create a comfortable workspace for company employees.

Large windows help bring in natural light and contemporary furniture also in soft earth tones add to the cozy feel of the office.

London 1

14. BrandBase – Amsterdam

This is perhaps one of the best examples of sustainability. The BrandBase ad agency used wooden pallets to completely redesign its office in Amsterdam.

According to the architect, the entire interior, from ceiling to floor, was painted white, “to provide a homogenous base for the pallet structure.”

Pallet structures took the form of tables, seating and even a staircase. Furniture and details like staircase bannisters and light fixtures were added in black.

The overall quirky design of the office is fun and evokes a creative atmosphere in this workspace.

pallet 1

pallet 2

15. Nothing Cardboard Bureau

Most of us, at one time in our life, pretended that a cardboard box was a house, an office or a car.

Did you know that presently, there is an office in Amsterdam made entirely out of cardboard? Well, not really the entire structure but the entire interior at least.

Designed by Dutch designers Alrik Koudenburg and Joost van Bleiswijk, it is a modular system that uses Bleiswijk’s “No Screw, No Glue” technique. All tables, shelves, stairs and beams were assembled from cardboard. This means very little expense on the part of the company owner.

This may be an unconventional design for an office but you have to admit it’s more fun to work in an office made of cardboard.

cardboard 1

cardboard 2

Paul Slezak

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for 20 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.

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