Success Comes from Within
“Creative workspace breeds creative minds” and “Happy employees make happy clients” – the annoying thing about platitudes is that we feel we know what they’re saying all too well and need not be reminded of it. However, building the workspace around the needs of the employee is all too new a trend.
It feels like it all started with the Google office play spaces and then permeated throughout the tech world, but now it’s spread to almost all other industries, as well. Another misconception is that it’s all for the Millennials. Creativity has no age limit – in the right setting, ideas will run their course and flourish into inspired and productive client services.
In this article, we take a look at some of Florida’s most inspiring employee-oriented creative offices. Read on to visit the spaces we thought best harbor growth and productivity, regardless of the employer’s industry.
22Squared – Tampa
Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, 22squared is one of the nation’s top independent advertising agencies. The firm has a second office in Tampa, where it recently relocated to the 25th floor at 100 North Tampa Street. The new office space was designed by ASD|SKY and was intended to reconnect the working environment with the “22Culture.” Freshly completed and moved into, the creative office space was a finalist in Tampa Business Journal‘s 2016 Coolest Office Spaces competition.
Looking around the space, the operative words seem to be collaborative and cozy. Among the varied surfaces like exposed cement floors, hardwood panels and a copious amount of whiteboards installed almost everywhere, one aspect that stands out is the quirky seating options. The space is designed to meet inspiration wherever it lands, while comfortably fostering collaboration and nurturing the all-important creative juices.
The 21,000-square-foot floor plan accommodates some 130 workstations, one large conference room, two smaller conference rooms, ten offices/meeting rooms, five phone rooms, a wellness room, a break room, reception and various pitch and collaboration spaces. The Sandbox is a brainstorming space made to connect employees with the relaxed mindset of childhood comfort – beanbag chairs, a hammock and expansive views help ideas roll out into the unique kind of advertising projects on which the company has built its success.
The “formal” client meeting and pitch space is very much like a mountain retreat living room/lounge, appropriately named the Creative Living Room. A ping-pong table seamlessly fits into a collaborative space that also features bleachers-type wooden seating. And just in case there’s an in-office tournament going on, the kitchen includes a beer tap that is supplied with local brews.
Front Burner – Tampa
Established in Tampa in 2011, Front Burner is a restaurant management company that is affiliated with dynamic and niche-specific brands, which include The Melting Pot fondue restaurant franchise. In November 2015, the company moved into its new, progressive Tampa Bay office headquarters at Woodland Corporate Center.
Before starting work on the design, CEO Bob Johnston sat down with employees to identify common themes of what they wanted to be surrounded by in order to feel better at work. The six core themes they came up with are now the company principles and are featured all through the office: fun, innovation, respect, excellence, integrity and teamwork.
Johnston hoped that the newly renovated space would make for an attractive workplace and help with recruiting and employee creativity. The CEO also implemented unique policies:
- Toto Tuesdays, whereby one employee can bring their dog to work. It made people feel so comfortable and at home that a Toto Thursday was added.
- Wordless Wednesdays were incorporated into the work week to allow everyone a few hours of quiet work time. There are no spoken words or scheduled meetings during Wordless Wednesdays. If speaking is urgent, the conversation can be taken outside or into a meeting room.
- Fun Fridays happen once a month, when the company sanctions some time for group fun, either by gathering in the kitchen, dubbed Heart of the House, or by going on “field trips” where the staff get involved in supporting various local establishments.
The new office purposefully eliminated private office space, so that no one would be concerned about the size and location of their work space. “In that kind of an environment, what your office looks like is supposed to be tied to who you are and your level of import to the company. We just don’t believe in that. Everyone is equally important and the environment reflects that,” said Johnston. With that in mind, the company went above and beyond to create an at-home feeling at work.
The front entrance features company logos and three TVs that rotate through photos of employees, their families and recent travels. The lounge areas have a café-style feel that encourages the kind of open conversation that results in great ideas. Furthermore, there are two brainstorming rooms designed to build those ideas up into projects – each room reflects a hemisphere in the brain and they have the least amount of technology in the office, in order to foster personal, engaging collaboration.
The Front Burner working environment never has any shortage of recreation. The meeting rooms are made to be fun and are filled with bean bag chairs, yoga balls and the like. Games are spread throughout the facility – a pool table in the kitchen right next to a conference table, a swing hanging from the ceiling of the office, a rock climbing wall, bikes, shuffleboard and a “Back Burner” (Beer Garden).
Online Labels Inc. – Sanford
The company is a privately-held internet retailer headquartered in Sanford, Fla., which specializes in, obviously enough, custom printed and blank labels. Located at 2021 E. Lake Mary Boulevard, it houses state-of-the-art production/warehouse and office space.
Online Labels moved in three years ago. The retailer worked with Balfour Beatty Construction and Heery International Inc. to not only build a world-class facility, but also move all of the existing product machinery that ran 24/7 to the new facility with no lost production time. The end result won this year’s third prize in Orlando’s Coolest Office Spaces competition.
“We believe happy employees make happy customers,” said Dave Carmany, president. “We’re committed to creating a space our employees can take pride in and that cultivates opportunities for creativity and innovation.”
With that in mind, the company made sure employees have access to plenty of amenities – the location harbors a complete workout facility, a relaxation room with executive massage chairs, a free Starbucks coffee machine and two game rooms stocked with videogames, pool and foosball tables, an arcade basketball machine, retro arcade games (Ms Pac-Man!) and a bubble hockey machine. At Online Labels Inc. “it isn’t work, when you’re having fun,” so employees have plenty of ways to unwind.
When designing the new office space, the retailer chose to address an aspect that does not yet seem to be widely recognized: “People spend more time at their jobs than they do at home,” says Online Labels’s Logistics Manager Kenny Burns. “We wanted this space to be an enjoyable place for our employees to spend their time.”
PowerDMS – Orlando
Cloud-based document management software company PowerDMS occupies 15,500 square feet of Downtown Orlando office space at the Church Street Exchange on South Garland Avenue. The historic building was renovated in 2014 to provide space for several tech start-ups. PowerDMS moved into its Orlando office in the summer of 2015 and has since made it into a very cozy place to work.
“When I started PowerDMS, I never imagined getting to work in a place like this, with a team of fun, smart people who get stuff done. The space is designed to be open, encouraging collaboration, trust and vulnerability,” said CEO Josh Brown.
Amenities available to employees include a bar area and a full kitchen, which welcomes a professional chef every Wednesday and delivers a weekly gourmet feast. The firm brings in masseuses once a month and treats the staff to massages in the wellness room. A staff favorite is the Jam Room, where employees can unwind by playing live music, ping-pong or video games. The office also houses an inviting library room where employees can work, study or enjoy a game of chess.
The Screening Room houses several couches and a projector screen – business projects are reviewed by day and movies are reviewed by… after work. The work space is open, collaborative and not necessarily assigned. A number of smaller rooms are available for private meetings or quiet time – each with a famous city name and a different color scheme.
Nobox – Miami
We cannot leave Florida without checking out the rich creative industry scene of Miami. Though it was anything but easy to choose from among the many fun businesses working out of Miami office space, we eventually decided to have a closer look at the NOBOX headquarters.
The edgy social and digital marketing agency occupies a space that seems to excellently reflect the collective personality of its people. Located in a very well-lit loft at Mayfair in the Grove, the agency’s pet-friendly headquarters is a seamless mix of work and play space. Bright colors adorn the inside of the office, while three large balconies extend the work/play space out into the sunlight. Wherever desks are organized in workspace style, lounging items are close nearby. The space encourages freedom of expression, creativity, comfort and collaboration. Entering the loft, visitors are greeted by a 30-foot mural by Wynwood artists 2Alas. Fun breaks are easy to come by with a video game room, foosball table, full kitchen, lounge-style collaborative spaces and generous outdoor space.