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Top 10 coolest offices in the world

Thursday, 20 October 2011 | By Oliver Milman

With low unemployment and a generation of employees who expect far cushier conditions than their forebears, you have to grab any advantage you can when attempting to lure talented staff to your start-up.


While few new ventures can compete with large businesses when it comes to salaries, incentives such as flexible working and favourable workplace conditions can prove crucial.


But how can you make your office a place that your staff will relish, rather than dread, turning up to?


According to Martin Nally, founder of consultancy HR Anywhere, it’s all about getting the basics right.


“You need to provide the facilities that allow your people to do their jobs – so if you work in design, lots of space to lay things out or lots of meeting rooms if you hold plenty of meetings,” he says.


“You don’t want your staff to be cramped, but at the same time you don’t want to wear a ball gown to a barbecue. You can’t compete with the top end of town in that way.


“Just make things convenient. If your business works irregular hours, good public transport and an air conditioning system that doesn’t switch off at 5pm is important.”


“If you don’t have good coffee within reach, you’ll struggle. Facilities, food and transport – lots of small businesses overlook these things. If there’s a problem with the restrooms, for example, and you don’t get it fixed quickly, it will become a big distraction.”


While it’s important to have these staples in place, there are other flourishes that you can add, given the right budget, to make staff feel happier and, therefore, more productive. Here are 10 examples from some of the best in the business.


10. Washington Square Park Dental in San Francisco


Your office may require you to interact with customers about quite mundane things. You can enhance the experience by adding some nice touches to set you apart from the competition.


This can work for the terrifying, too – this US dentist has TV screens, comforting open-plan spaces and plenty of foliage to help turn something potentially unpleasant into a more relaxing experience.


9. Macquarie Investment Bank in Sydney



An investment bank in Sydney may not feel like the most creative place to work, but Macquarie has gone out on a limb to help staff collaborate.


The office is a highly flexible space, with employees able to meet at one of 26 different “meeting pods”. As a result, more than half of staff change their workplaces every day, aiding interaction within the business.


8. Dtac Headquarters Bangkok



The health and fitness of your staff doesn’t need to start and end with vague encouragement to cycle to work or take a walk at lunch.


Australian design firm Hassell won a competition to design the office of Thai telco Dtac. An eye-catching element to the workspace is a running track, where sedentary employees can take a brief jog.


7. ANZ Centre in Melbourne



Another seemingly dowdy Australian bank has created a rather wonderful office.


While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to afford a vast, split-level workspace, you can take some valuable lessons from the ANZ office.


There are 44 different working hubs centred around communal facilities such as a café and public art, with employees also able to escape to quiet working zones.


6. Skype in Stockholm



If you’re looking for a well-designed office, you will do well to top Skype’s office in Stockholm, Sweden.


As well as being fabulous to look at, the Skype space also ties in with the cloud-shaped logo and lettering of the brand. Could you also integrate your brand into your office design?

5. TBWA Hakuhodo in Tokyo



What better way to let your staff escape the realities of a grim urban setting than by bringing nature indoors?


This Japanese ad agency has trees and plants everywhere and encourages its staff to lounge around with drinks in some sort of strange indoor picnic during work hours.

4. Studio No 6 in Colorado



It’s all very well having grand designs for your office, but what if you don’t have the space or budget to pull it off?


Not a problem for US branding agency Studio No 6, which has installed a moving wall in order to maximise the little space it occupies.


The three-sided structure divides the office up into different spaces. There’s even a workstation fitted within the wall.


3. The Hub in Madrid



Sometimes, simplicity wins out. If you’ve taken over a large space steeped in history – say a church or former jail – it can pay to let the character of the office speak for itself.


Start-up co-working franchise The Hub has taken over an old railway station for its Madrid outlet.


The space lends itself nicely to the concept of shared collaboration between budding entrepreneurs, with the untouched look supplemented by various fruit boxes, which double up as desks, stools, ladders and so on.


2. Comvert in Milan


Ideally, you want your staff to “live” the product they are selling or developing. But Comvert, a clothing brand for skateboarders, has taken this to a new level.


Not only does the office have graffiti walls and mobile furniture, allowing for the space to be transformed into a runway, meeting room or screening area, it also contains a giant skating “bowl”.


Skateboarding at work? Somehow, it works.


1. Google, everywhere



Well, what else would be number one? Google has set the benchmark when it comes to its treatment of its staff, giving them time off to work on personal projects.


The search giant’s offices around the world contain such luxuries as meeting “pods”, aquariums, pool and billiard tables, table tennis and even accommodation, so employees never have to leave the Google world.


But, best of all, Google employees can take a slide to the cafeteria. That’s right – a slide. The free food doesn’t hurt, either.