The dot-com boom of the late nineties and early noughties created a number of new young dynamic entrepreneurs who rightly questioned the accepted vision of a workplace.

Jono Wood

Senior Designer

06th Aug 2014


Having started their businesses from garages, industrial units or the humble kitchen table, they brought with them a youthful naivety and a new vision of what constituted an acceptable arena for working.

As more established companies started to notice the influence of these upstart newcomers they also noted the environments they inhabited and started to copy elements of the workspace into their own office.

This began to happen at a time when mainstream businesses were jumping headlong into open plan spaces and cramming as many people as could be legally accommodated into these money generating cathedrals.

Unfortunately, the blind leap of faith into the open plan environment as a one-solution-fits-all was found to be sadly lacking. Not only because of its noisy distracting, overcrowded nature but also in its inability to provide the users with appropriate spaces to concentrate, collaborate and function. It was noted however, where an area had been given over to an informal meeting space or breakout facility, people’s production and quality of work increased.

Corporate theme parks

The benefits of such spaces were already known by the dot-commers who were increasingly having fun for fun’s sake within their office fit outs. Seemingly fresh out of nursery school, these amazingly successful entrepreneurs began to quite literally replicate their playground in the workplace and soon the likes of Google were pimping their already radical spaces and turning their offices into corporate theme parks.

Today the proliferation of bean bags, space hoppers and slides within the new younger breed of company office environments has encouraged more mainstream blue-chip organisations to consider what can be done to enhance their offices to not only benefit their employees but also help them compete in the staff recruitment market.

How do I pimp my office?

So what can an organisation do to successfully pimp their office? Well to begin with forget showy extravagances. I’m sure it’s great fun the first time you get to leave an office via a slide but by month three I’m pretty certain I would be cheesed off at the prospect of collecting the debris of coat, bag, laptop and documents following me in a spectacular show of arms, legs and loose paper.

It’s more about environments that provide a space for considered relaxation which ultimately encourage collaboration and aids better communication throughout the business.

Many clients are opting for a combination of flexible areas both as partitioned spaces and free standing furniture solutions. For instance, rather than build an extra traditional meeting room with seating for eight, which predominantly gets used for only a few minutes and mainly by four people, an option is to install two high backed sofas in an area adjacent from the general work environment.

This still provides an adequate level of sound attenuation, is better suited to quick informal ad hoc meetings and saves on all of the associated costs of building another meeting room. It also provides a visual break and softening to the general workspace. The fabric choice alone creates a focal point amongst a sea of bland desks.

Other furniture solutions are also available that allow staff to sit at a high-level work surface and interact via a screen or writable surface located at one end.

Do it write

Rooms with surfaces that can be written and projected on are becoming increasingly popular. These environments aid creativity and provide a change of feel that help define them as an area for an alternative function. Their inherent flexibility means they tend to be very different in their finish and look. They lend themselves to being pimped and can create a visual accent in the work landscape.

Advances in digital printing provide many opportunities for lifting a surface beyond the magnolia coloured safe ground. An ability to turn a boring surface into Technicolor splendour now exists for options from glass to a raw brick wall and everything in between.