Office Spaces Designed for the Evolution of Work

Jonah Carte

As how we work evolves, so do the spaces where we work. Each of these office spaces look very different, but all fit changing the way we work.

From rows of offices, to a ring of offices for higher-ups around a general pool, to replacing individual offices with free-flowing groupings meant to facilitate collaboration to cubicles intended to promote autonomy and back again, our workspaces have evolved over the decades. Office designers struggle to create office spaces that better suit the nature of work as well as integrate new technology.

4 Awesome Office Space Designs

The way we think about work has directly influenced office space design. Preserving employee privacy, encouraging collaboration, or rewarding upper-level management are all factors that have changed office design. However, another critical factor has caused shifts in this space – technological developments.

When computers first appeared, they were so large they needed their own rooms. From the punch-card computer programming era to the current one, technology has changed in size and shape. This has had a significant influence on workspace design. Once computers shrunk down to fit on individual desks, our work became tied to the computer and often the desk it was on.

But work and workspaces continue to change and being tied to your desk is not always the case these days. Now, increasingly, you and your computer are completely mobile, even in the most corporate of office spaces.

Image: Interior Architects

Google in Chelsea, NYC

When Google renovates an office space, they don’t just rearrange the furniture, they completely reimagine the space. Each of Google’s North American office spaces has its own look and feel that reflects the city where it is located.

For example, the Chelsea office features a hallway paved in subway tiles. It is also carefully designed to give its diverse workforce as many opportunities for interaction as possible – much like New York City itself, where diverse groups of people often have random encounters.

The Chelsea office is filled with nooks, crannies, and quiet corners where employees can think, meditate or just do some work in peace and quiet. Perhaps the coolest feature are the hammocks designed for “hanging out.”

Image: NBBJ

Amazon in Seattle, Washington

Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is famous for its innovative design, and a recent renovation has created more work and lounge areas for its employees. The centerpiece of the new headquarters is an area called The Spheres. This multi-storied, glass-enclosed space contains plants and trees from across the globe. They give Amazon’s employees a space to think more creatively and collaboratively, surrounded by nature. The Spheres were designed to help Amazon’s employees feel their best and do their best work.

In addition to The Spheres, the Centers of Energy are located on the lower floors of the building. These social hubs are filled with employee amenities such as labs, tech support, a marketplace, food venues, and an outdoor terrace as well as other alternative workspaces. It gives the space an urban vitality, encouraging employees to gather, connect, and collaborate outside of the traditional office environment.

Image: Etsy

Etsy’s New Corporate Headquarters, Brooklyn

It’s not just pure tech companies that go big on innovative workspaces. Although based in tech, Etsy is known as a marketplace for everything handmade. So, no one would blame you for thinking the Etsy headquarters would look like a giant craft project. Instead, it is an elegant, collaboration-friendly space with a funky, creative vibe. An embodiment of community, craft, and sustainability, the design features furnishings and artwork from Etsy sellers and local artisans.

Etsy took the opportunity to do more than build a larger, prettier office space. The new headquarters showcases their culture that views “Code as Craft.” Blurring the line between habitat and workspace, the building is on track to become the biggest Living Building Challenge Petal-Certified project in the world.

Image: Alley

Alley Coworking Spaces

You don’t have to work for a tech company to have a cool working space. Coworking spaces are popping up all over, and Alley’s coworking spaces are among the most innovative. An Alley coworking space provides all the amenities of a traditional office, including high-speed internet, conference rooms, cleaning service, coffee and snacks, printing and office supplies, as well as free access to events and a community manager.

Closing the gap between small businesses and large corporations, an Alley coworking space offers a dynamic space where you can work on your own or in teams. A renovated telecommunications space, Alley’s co-working space in Washington, DC features work by local artists that bring a sense of hipness without losing its industrial feel.

Unlike other coworking spaces, Alley vets potential tenants based on what they will bring to the community. Members go through an extensive interview process that has been compared to an interview for a job or a fancy New York apartment building.

As how we work evolves, so do the spaces where we work. While each of these office spaces look very different in their design, they have some things in common. They all creatively display their company culture and brand. They use architectural elements, including walls, windows, floors, and bright colors, to create an innovative and productive workspace. And, they succeed in changing the way we work.