7 Work Environments Optimised for Employee Happiness

Get ready. We’ve lined up seven of the coolest offices in the world — including two locations in Britain, a fair share of US workplaces and even one special brand as far afield as Australia. 

These offices aren’t just to ogle at either — they’re included in this list because of their happiness-inducing features which are sure to make their employees content even on a dreary Monday morning.

  • Have you ever fancied working in spaces that are kitted out for viral selfies? 
  • Want to work in an office where you can exit via a slide? 
  • Or maybe even a workplace where taking a nap is socially acceptable? 

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to apply for positions at these brands… 

Sleep Pods at Google’s Offices — California 

The words “cool office” and Google already go hand in hand. For anyone who’s watched the 2013 movie, The Internship our first pick is a no-brainer. 

The Internship is a comedy flick which stars ultimate blockbuster duo, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as “mature” interns in Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Some of the scenes were actually shot there and others were taken at a clever recreation of the building in the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

What makes this film set (and real-life workplace) qualify for our employee happiness countdown? The sleep pods, of course. 

Image originally featured on The Guardian.

An office feature that’s shown throughout the movie, Google’s sleep pods are a place of relaxation for employees when they’re feeling tired or need to recharge. 

The Guardian covered this workplace development and interviewed various experts about the correlation between sleep and health. Although it’s not only Google that has started to encourage downtime during the day (Nike also boast a relaxation room in their office), they are the only brand to offer this workplace benefit in such a futuristic way. 

In some ways, the sleep pods symbolise everything that Google stands for — including their relaxed approach to performance management. 

Slide Entrance at EKM — Fulwood  

Taking a leaf out of Google’s book, EKM, a software provider and web development agency in the north of England have spent £3.5m on a purpose-built office. 

What does £3.5m get you? An entrance complete with a three-storey slide, a 120 seat auditorium, an Airstream caravan and more. 

Image originally featured on Employee Benefits.

The organisation hopes to attract young, vibrant workers who favour a fun and flexible work environment. 

Perhaps the most striking feature of this office is the three-storey slide — some might say modelled after Google, a brand that has recurring slides throughout their worldwide offices. 

What is it about slides that evoke employee happiness? Well, it’s probably something to do with chucking corporate norms in the bin. 

Recognised entrepreneur, Neil Patel has an excellent commentary on the impact a laid back work environment can have on company culture. Surprise, surprise, Neil used Google as a case study for this. Although Neil doesn’t specifically speak of slides in his analysis, he does reference others aspects of a laid back environment and how they might boost creativity and productivity in the workplace. 

You heard it here first – ditch the boardroom and build a play area, instead. 

Sweet Independence at Home Sweet Home — Anywhere 

Monster corporations like Google and strong players in niche markets, like EKM, have a fair amount to spend on the development of work environments. It’s easy with a budget of £3.5m or more to be able to optimise a space for employee happiness, right? 

But what if you don’t have that type of money to spend? Well, if you’re a small business or even a freelancer, the answer might lie in something that’s slightly less exciting than a slide. The golden solution might be to invest in a small business phone plan

Image originally featured on Unsplash.

Hear us out. 

The only thing better than a cool office space is not having to be in an office at all. We could all deck out corporate areas with slides and nap pods if we had enough money to do so. But what for? To make them less office-like, of course. 

With that said, it might be time to invest in a virtual phone plan where a professional, landline number diverts to a mobile device. This type of phone plan gives you and your employees the ultimate superpower — the ability to work from home (or anywhere else that takes your fancy). 

It’s pretty obvious how this level of freedom amounts to employee happiness, but we’ll throw in a study to back things up. Here’s a piece of research that proves remote employees are happier and as a bonus, the survey revealed that they also feel more productive too. 

Social Spaces at DropBox — Sydney 

If you must be in a physical location to perform your work duties, Dropbox’s offices in Sydney aren’t a bad place to start. 

Why? Because it’s open plan design prioritises socialisation, allowing employees to lounge freely instead of being cooped up in a classic office cubicle. Teams can work on projects together and have space to brainstorm. 

In fact, most of Dropbox’s offices are designed in this manner with a very relaxed vibe and central hub atmosphere. But the Sydney location feels like a streamlined living area which is structured yet serene. 

Originally featured on Office Snapshots.

What seems like endless oak panelling contrasts against vibrant, bold colouring in the interior. This diverse office formed through a collaboration between Dropbox and global design firm, Gensler. 

The office is described as a “place for shared experience, for making memories and for storytelling.” Pretty whimsical for a Wednesday at work, right? 

Gensler had a defined vision when they began work on the project, but how does this translate into employee happiness? Well, we’ve got facts that will make you want to get pally at work. 

Happiness expert Annie McKee is a big believer in the power of employee relationships and the production of happiness. She claims that building friendships is a key way to make us feel more fulfilled in workplaces. A wider study quoted in the same article analysed 724 men in over seven decades and found quality relationships to be the key to leading a happy life. 

Hmmm. It’s probably time you reached out to your co-worker and asked about how their weekend was. 

Solitude at Pallotta TeamWorks — California 

If being social isn’t your thing, then don’t worry — we can’t all be social butterflies. Instead of getting cosied up on the sofa, you could try working within a Tetris formation of tiny little cubicles. You never know, they could give you the seclusion that you so desperately seek. 

Either way, this is what it’s like to work in Pallotta TeamWorks in California. 

Originally featured on Office Snapshots.

The container build is almost reminiscent of those tourist-favourite Japenese cubicle hotels in Japan. But what’s the story behind this unique office block?

It’s an unlikely tale. Instead of starting as an inspiration for workspace heaven, the container formation was a cost-effective measure for a company that found itself on a tight renovation budget. That’s right, Pallotta TeamWorks challenged Los Angeles architects, Clive Wilkinson to create an interesting office on a shoestring budget.

We think they did a pretty good job. And so did a few other people as the design managed to bag the National AIA Honor Award. 

Now it’s time for a bit of conflicting advice — at work, you should go it alone. We know that in the previous example, we just said maintaining close-knit relationships with employees is vital, but sometimes the best thing to do is to take a breather. 

The truth is isolation at work can be both a curse and a blessing as Agustin Chevez discovered in his self-set experiment. We’d imagine in a work environment where you can find solitude in your container and be social whenever you feel like it, isolation should never become an issue and at Pallotta TeamWorks, employees get the best of both worlds. 

Selfie Opportunities at Instagram — New York 

If any office is going to be modelled like a permanent photoshoot, it’s got to be Instagram. The Facebook-owned social platform now has over one billion monthly users and has become the world’s favourite place to post selfies. 

If you visit their New York office, it’s likely to appear in the background of your next selfie. 

Originally featured on Inc.

Inc was invited to take a tour of the building to see just how “Instagrammable” it is. One of the key focuses was to create different spaces so that the entire office feels fluid but fresh at the same time. From plant walls to embellished mini conference rooms, the average visitor could easily get up to ten fresh snaps on their phone — all different from the last one. 

The big question is: how much does the prettiness of a place impact your mood? In other words, can Instagram-worthy interior setups make you any happier at work? 

In short, they can. 

The Atlantic coined this effect “The Beauty-Happiness Connection” – no matter how shallow it may appear, pretty things make us happy. Shockingly, they may also improve our quality of life. 

However frivolous the plan for Instagram’s New York office was, they’ve inadvertently done a great job at securing their employee’s happiness by giving them a solid place to take selfies, soak up the plant-produced energy and revel in their improved quality of life.