December 22, 2015
The year draws to an end and making a list of what you claim are the world’s coolest offices or making claims about what makes an office cool is a great way of generating some much needed fin de siecle PR. That’s presumably why there are so many features about what constitutes a cool office. You can find them everywhere including in the Telegraph, Fortune, Esquire, Inc and Forbes. Or, like search engine Adzuna, you can openly boast about how much PR you’ve generated with your list and then do it again every year. If you want to tap into this meme, the great thing about it is that you don’t even have to know anything about or even visit the offices you deem cool enough to make your top ten. You can even choose offices from other people’s lists. All you have to do is follow a number of simple and interrelated criteria to come up with a list that is pretty much the same as all the others and say the same things about them.
Choose cool industries
Nobody is going to get excited about what a good job the guys at a council, accountancy or engineering company have done with their offices. So make sure your list is packed with technology firms (Facebook (main image), Google, Box, Mind Candy), creative businesses (Mother, Corus, Fantasy Factory) or those that have a brand that fits the list (Innocent, Red Bull, Nike). You might even include a token grey corporate but make sure they inhabit a cool building in the first place (Lloyds).
Choose firms that employ a lot of young people
Always likely if you’ve chosen the right sort of business in the first place but also a handy way of talking about Gen Y and their extraterrestrial characteristics. The offices should look as if they’ll give anybody over the age of 30 a headache just by being there and that the most popular dish in the canteen is locally produced Soylent Green. If you need to depict anybody, not only should they be in their twenties, they should be skateboarding, doing nothing at all or sliding down a pole. Certainly not peering at a spreadsheet.
Choose firms that look anti-corporate but earn sums that would make a merchant banker blush
You can’t blame GenY for this particular trick because it’s an old one. Ben and Jerry’s still want you to think at some level that their ice cream is knocked up by a couple of old hippies, rather than mass produced as a subsidiary of Unilever. The design should convince you that either no actual work is going on here or, if there is, nobody’s doing it for the money.
Choose firms that fill their offices with games
The pool table, ping pong and table football are all a bit obvious so why not go your own way and look for those firms who’ve installed a basketball court, retro gaming machines or even – what could possibly go wrong? – a shooting range. Ideally you may also want the walls to be plastered in grafitti.
Choose firms that treat people like toddlers
If a business has to install just one feature that marks it out as being down with the kids, it’s a slide. But if that seems a bit obvious, there are plenty around with treehouses, playrooms, climbing frames, fireman’s poles, crash mats and building blocks. Make sure that the decor is modelled on a children’s TV programme with a bathtub in reception, carpets that look like Teletubbies grass, asymmetric tiles and the kind of colour palette that would be chosen by a tartrazine-laced four year old. Extend this thinking to lighting schemes, so that you can pretend that having coloured lights in meeting rooms is a good idea.
Choose firms that are grown-up but quirky
There is a possibly apocryphal story that Bono used to buy expensive clothes and then drive around with them tied to the back bumper of his car, dragging on the ground so they would look suitably lived in. Similarly, buying second hand and cheap furniture, such as wooden garden benches instead of meeting tables, old phone boxes and any battered old chairs the business can get its hands on before Starbucks buys them all, will definitely make offices eligible for a cool list.
Choose firms with some sense of scale
Skyscrapers are probably not going to make it on to a cool list. Far too corporate. Which is presumably why Google and Facebook have chosen long and low buildings for their most recent headquarters. But big is cool especially if it’s a lobby or meeting area. If you do find a building with a cavernous atrium which also features a vast three storey slide, you have your headline picture.