What Makes an Office a Better Place to Work?

After seeing how our office shapes our behaviours and promotes our culture, my curious mind wanted to know what was behind all this. Now here I am, about to share it with you lucky people 😉

I promise I’ll avoid expressions like, “it’s not an office, it’s an experience,” that will make you want to run a mile.

From Skepticism to Complete Conviction

We’ve all heard of the amazing office spaces some tech companies and startups have. When I was getting to know the startup world I was skeptical. Of course, I could appreciate the aesthetics of those places and their fun atmospheres—how about the slide they have at Google headquarters in Switzerland? Nice, eh?

Google Office in Zurich

However, I couldn’t avoid thinking: “It’s nice, but is it really promoting their culture or shaping the way employees work?” My apologies for having failed to grasp the deeper role of all this. Now I am a convert.

The Office Design Shapes How You Work

You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need a slide in the middle of the office to get there. It’s not about splashing money around, but more about understanding what behaviours you want to encourage and what aspects of your culture you want to reflect.

The design of our office encourages certain behaviours and reflects important aspects of our culture, such as collaborative work and social interactions.

Let me tell you a little about it. Our main space consists of an open-plan arrangement where we each have our own individual workstation— here you can see the office in a 360º image.

There are dividing shelves that don’t block the open-plan feeling but allow you your own cocoon if you need it. So, we have the best of both worlds, and if you really want to find a proper quiet space, there are plenty around the office. Since they say that pictures speak louder than words:

ShuttleCloud-Office-General        ShuttleCloud-Office-Hall        ShuttleCloud-Office-Hall2        ShuttleCloud-Office-MeetingRoom        ShuttleCloud-Office-MeetingRoomUp        ShuttleCloud-Office-PINGPONG        ShuttleCloud-Office-SkypeRooms        ShuttleCloud-Office-Terrace        ShuttleCloud-Office-Upstairs        ShuttleCloud-Office-Work        ShuttleCloud-Office9

 

There are different areas which allow for different types of work. For example, we have spaces that encourage a more collaborative type of work with higher tables that a team can gather around and whiteboards to write down code or ideas.

Engineering team meeting - ShuttleCloud

There Are not Predetermined Rules for How the Different Spaces Should Be Used

Yes, we each have our own desk, but we tell employees to feel free to sit anywhere in the office that they feel suits them based on their mood or the work they are doing.

The office is an ever changing environment where some spaces are used more for one purpose than others, but there is plenty of flexibility. I’ll tell you more about this later on.

Office-ShuttleCloud

Why Come to the Office When You Can Work in Your Pyjamas?

If you can work remotely, why would you bother to jump out of bed, have a shower, get dressed, and commute to work when you can roll out of bed, stay in your pjs, and work from home listening to your favourite tunes?

1. This space is cozy

I believe one important reason we keep coming to work is how comfortable this place feels. Around the office, we have:

  • Loads of plants.
  • Several sofas with plenty of pillows.
  • A kitchen full of healthy (and maybe-not-so healthy, but yummy) snacks.
  • A patio area.
  • And we can decorate and bring as many personal objects as we want.

We feel so comfortable here that you might see one of us having a rest on one of the sofas. This doesn’t happen often, but if you’ve stayed up late answering emails or dealing with an alarm, there’s nothing wrong with a 5-minute power nap. The only drawback is that you will probably find a photo of yourself in the arms of Morpheus posted to Slack with the caption “Hard at Work”—a small price to pay, if you ask me. ;P

Resting in the office after a hard day

2. A place where the team socialises

ShuttleCloud culture acknowledges the importance of social interactions and the spaces around the office encourage them. Do you remember how I mentioned the “ever changing” aspect of this office? Here is where it plays an important role. When we’re not holding meetups in the event area, it doubles as a ping-pong arena or a home cinema. 

FreeZone

We can have all-hands meetings in the sofa area or just hang around there with a coffee. The meeting room with two TV screens becomes the perfect sports bar when there are two matches taking place at the same time. The office’s design encourages social interactions and makes people feel cozy, comfortable, and even playful, which brings me to my next point.

3. Embrace your inner child

In our society, work and play are treated as mutually exclusive. Moreover, play is considered an activity reserved for children. But does it have to be that way? We don’t believe so at ShuttleCloud.

This place is fun and full of opportunities to enjoy ourselves, from the ping-pong table to the PS4. There are also prompts all around the office that encourage us to engage in free play.

I’ve seen these guys work for hours without moving from their chairs. Sometimes everyone’s so focused that you could hear a pin drop. They can stay up until the early hours working or attending to an alarm even at a Christmas party or while going out in Budapest. But I have seen them playing around and having a good time, too.

Nacho-ShuttleCloud

If you pass our office, you may see us stretching on the green exercise balls, or you may find Nacho doing handstands (and me trying and failing miserably).

Gym ShuttleCloud

If you visit the office after lunch you are likely to find Antonio, Santi, Lukasz, and Félix challenging each other to a game of ping-pong—and, more often than not, Angel playing FIFA on the PS4.

We also take advantage of the open-plan working area for two of our favorite activities:

  • “Catch”: we throw the rugby ball from one side to the office to the other, or someone will suddenly shout “catch” and you have to react fast and grab the ball like a pro. So far no screens or laptops have been harmed during these games, but there have been some close calls.
  • We also break the silence by singing along to some of the joke tunes we know. You will probably hear Antonio and Nacho taking turns singing lines of some silly song—cheesy, you might say, but not if you hear the lyrics ;P

Our society usually misses the benefits of playresearch shows that it nourishes trust and stimulates creativity. If this is a little too hocus-pocus for your liking, I’m sure you can agree that playfulness makes happier employees, and that is good for business. So don’t leave your fun side at the door when you come to the office; you may surprise yourself and see that everybody is ready to tag along.

Startup Interior Design for Dummies

I’m no interior designer, so everything I am going to say below is based on observation and the experiences we have here at ShuttleCloud. If I was to design an office, I wouldn’t hesitate to include:

  • Open-plan is a good idea as long as you have other areas for more quiet work. Be in tune with your coworkers’ moods and needs. If someone needs quiet time, quiet time it is.
  • Different zones that employees can move between and use freely boost concentration and help people not to feel restless in their seats.
  • Areas where people can gather, work, and share ideas.
  • A space where work and social interactions can occur seamlessly.
  • playful space where employees can let off some steam and build trust, you’ll have happier employees and a tighter team.
  • At the end of the day, a creative, flexible space will reflect in your employees’ frame of mind.

So that is why our office space works for us and the reasoning behind it. Mystery solved. Curiosity satisfied. Ana out.

I don’t know about you, but after writing this post I am even more convinced of the benefits of play—so let’s start thinking about where that slide goes, team!

Until next time :)

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P.S. Thanks to the architects Daniel Monja and Lillian Rodriguez, as well as ShuttleCloud cofounder Carlos Cabañero, who managed the project.