When taking a career class last year, the professor told us to think about what type of firm you would want to work in; what type of atmosphere would you want to surround yourself in that would enable you to succeed? I had always imaged a place similar to the child-like fun atmosphere that Google promotes. But is that really a space that promotes creativity while still being a professional and equal opportunity employer? I have had these ideas questioned after reading an article from Architectural Record exploring the new wave of playful design in the office.
Beanbags, napping nodes, Ping-Pong tables, and bright colors are only a few of the characteristics of the new wave of innovative office structure. Studies have even shown that these flexible workspaces that promote non-corporate activities in the office can boost creativity, productivity and employee satisfaction, which may be the reason the trend started from tech companies during 24 hour coding sessions.
The drawbacks to these fun-loving and carefree offices are the expectations to put in longer hours to make up for the time spent napping and playing. If you are in your 20s and single, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade off, but what about the employees with families at home? And where is the division between work and home? It is already said that Americans work too much, and I think creating office settings that mimic leisure places will make it even harder for people to leave the office and enjoy a life outside of the corporate world.
I believe these offices are innovative in their thinking and catering to their employees, but I think there could be a better balance between the structured corporate office a the relaxed dorm room feeling.