The world’s happiest offices: 5 secrets for a cool office

An office is so much more than four walls and an array of desks – for many of us, it is a second home.

In honour of International Day of Happiness, we take a look at the world's happiest offices and ask ourselves – what makes a cool office? Does location matter? Is office furniture as important as the space it inhabits?  

Although it can be argued that the concept of "cool" can be very subjective, there remain several features you can incorporate into your office to make it a fun place to work in. So where do you start?

1. Vibrant colours

Bright colours have always been synonymous with fun but the key to a cool office is, of course, balance. Opt for accent walls or colourful furniture to highlight a certain area, aspect or piece of furniture of your office. From your office reception, through a metal staircase, to design furniture, a pop of colour can go a long way.

Capital One Bank office in San Francisco, by Studio O+A
colour-office-design
Colourful café space at advertising agency 22squared in Tampa, Florida. By ASD|SKY 
Prezi office with a breakout space
Prezi's office in San Francisco features a fun breakout area with stadium-like seating. By Gensler

2. Green walls

living wall inside Facebook's Tel Aviv office
Facebook offices in Tel Aviv, by Setter Architects

Being around nature is soothing. Working in an office, not always. That's why more and more offices are bringing the outside in by incorporating living walls in your office.  Businesses who embrace vertical gardens in common areas such as office receptions and breakout areas are likely to increase productivity and wellbeing. 

etsy office green wall
Etsy offices in Brooklyn, New York boasts green walls and colourful art. By Gensler. Credit: Garrett Rowland
Breakout space inside Google Budapest office
Google offices in Budapest, by Graphasel Design Studio. Photography: Attila Balázs

3. Fun furniture

What better way to convey happiness than to opt for versatile furniture that is also functional and ergonomic? Office furniture is no longer solely focused on desks and swivelling chairs – on the contrary. It is now all about innovative, modular furniture items that embrace the idea of fun and blend it with the practical.

fun furniture for laptop workers
Airbnb's office in Portland, Oregon features custom-made furniture built for laptop users. By Bora Architects. Photography: Jeremy Bittermann
cool office storage space for stools
Design slot wall for storing stools in Ekimetrics office breakout area, Paris. By Vincent & Gloria Architects
cool pods inside the Google office in Sydney
Relaxing pods in Google's office in Sydney, by Futurespace

4. (Not so) corporate art

Art in the workplace often speaks to the company's values and personality. As such, the rule is simple: if you want to be perceived as a cool, young and vibrant company, start by introducing some fun art in your office. Office murals, art installations and even a lego wall can make the difference between a dull office and one that gives off positive vibes.

office mural inside WeWork Soho
Hustle Mural by Jeremiah Britton, inside WeWork Soho's office
cool office with decorative helmets
Inside Grupo CP offices in Mexico. By Space Arquitetura

5. Games

 Work hard, play harder. The presence of a game room is increasingly becoming necessary if an office is to be qualified as cool. A pool table, a foosball table, a swing and a pouffe or two wouldn't go amiss. More than breakout areas that are more synonymous of relaxed shared workspaces and impromptu meetings, game rooms are there to boost productivity by allowing for a little moment of fun-filled reprieve. If that doesn't make a happy office, then what does?

game room at TripAdvisor's office
TripAdvisor headquarters, by Baker Design Group. Photography: Robert Benson
Game room inside Prezi San Francisco office
Game room inside Prezi's office, San Francisco. By Gensler 
Cool office with a swing in Budapest
Fun swing inside Google Budapest' s office. By Graphasel Design Studio