We look at a growing trend towards 'mega offices' that are designed not just for staff, but for the local community.

When it comes to relaxed and trendy office design, it’s no secret that the technology sector has been pushing the boundaries for some time. A quick image search for Google-style offices reveals a plethora of brightly-coloured, fun spaces with slides, bean bags, and quirky meeting areas with staff hanging out with a laptop or coffee.

It’s not just household tech names that are being recognised for their innovation in office design. In the UK, IT consultancy Thoughtworks won an award for their cool, multi-functional workplace, and the office for software developer Splunk has been named one of the UK's coolest offices by Management Today and the Daily Mail. Whether you’re reading the tabloids or the broadsheets (or even Facebook and Twitter) it’s hard to ignore these super-cool workplaces. The facilities provided by destination workplaces have blurred the lines between work and leisure, but now workplace design is moving into a whole new dimension by providing facilities for the local community, too.

Mega offices for the community

Google’s new U.S. campus will be as much dedicated to the public as it will their staff. The entire ground floor of the main plaza will be made up of shops, restaurants and cafes for everyone to use, with a pedestrian walkway running through the centre. The campus aims to be a destination for the local community, with a network of crosswalks and bike lanes to encourage activity. There will also be a relaxation deck where staff and locals can catch up with friends, or simply soak up the Californian sun. Google's brand is all about interaction and they've reflected this through their workplace design by providing open plan areas for staff and the curious public to explore the brand experience.

With this innovative approach to workplace design, it seems that a chance to experience a Google-style setting may actually not be as inaccessible as we once thought. So, can we expect to see a similar model of destination communities created in the UK?

King's Cross office regeneration

In London, the urban redevelopment and regeneration of King's Cross paid particular attention to creating leisure spaces around the shops and offices that could be shared by both workers and the public. Open spaces with fountains and benches, as well as cafes and restaurants play the same role in urban design as the breakout spaces and tea points do in our office designs. They are spaces where people come together to relax and recharge, away from their homes or desk. You could argue that the concept of creating shared spaces for workers and the public, as seen in King's Cross, follows a similar model to Google’s new Californian campus, albeit designed and developed by urban planners instead of a single business. Interestingly, with their emphasis on providing excellent facilities for the staff, it comes as no surprise that King's Cross is the site where Google has set up their London HQ, with further plans for expansion announced in November 2016.

The rise of shared office space

Google is no stranger to sharing space with others; most recently through the launch of Google Campuses, their own co-working and tech-incubator hubs. The campuses follow a similar model to WeWork co-working spaces, placing an emphasis on providing more than just desk space to entrepreneurs and start-ups. These workspaces are designed around common shared areas with sprawling breakout spaces, cafes, and workstations. This allows independent and small businesses to collaborate and grow in an environment with like-minded peers.

What’s important here is creating environments where people from different backgrounds and industries can easily communicate and collaborate with each other.

Battersea Power Station

The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station looks like it will shake up the London property landscape, with Apple moving their UK HQ to the new south west London space. Comprised of offices, retail and leisure facilities, this new mixed-use development will provide enough recreational facilities to keep the employees spread across the 1.25 million sq ft of office space entertained and engaged once the revamped power station opens in 2021.

Apple has enough staff in their head office in California to populate a small town, so it’s no surprise they’ve pulled out all of the stops to ensure that their new office is the perfect home for the future of tech innovation. Starting with small considerations such as ample parking and floor proximities, Apple has also installed a 100,000 sq ft gym (that’s larger than the average office fit out we deliver!) and a fully-catered restaurant, aptly called Café Macs. So by making the working experience as seamless as possible, Apple is able to ensure they get top productivity out of their employees.

Hopefully what this means for the future of office space is more choice, better facilities and an opportunity to enjoy an integrated work environment.