Should more offices swap stairs for slides?

Playground equipment isn't just for kids.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. In recent years, this old proverb has weaved its way into the work culture where the importance of downtime has not only been recognised but also promoted.

 

Box.net's office reception slide. Architect: Fennie+Mehl

More and more concerned with wellbeing in the workplace, companies are incorporating 'fun' in the office. Game rooms, ping pong tables and football nets are no strangers to the workplace as forward-looking offices are slowly turning into carefully balanced playgrounds. So why should the staircase not get a fun makeover too?

You might've taken notice of Google and its obsession with slides, but more and more companies around the world are now jumping on the bandwagon and installing slides in their offices. Some are sleek and minimal, others remind us of wild attraction parks but whatever the design, one ride is enough to bring back playful childhood memories – all from the comfort of the office.

Integrating playground apparatus into the workplace is rarely governed by whim. More than fun smooth chutes, slides mean business - they can give an edge to the workplace and increase job satisfaction.

To inspire you, let's look at some companies with slides in their offices. 

Google Zurich
theCHIVE Austin Texas
theCHIVE Austin Texas
Lego Denmark
Google Detroit
Ogilvy & Mather Jakarta
Opening photo: Ticketmaster London

A roundup of London’s best coworking spaces

Premium location, designer furniture, hip eateries... London's coworking scene has set the bar high.

Makerversityat Somerset House London - coworking spaces for professional makers

As the concept of office-sharing continues to thrive, coworking spaces in London are becoming ubiquitous. Stiff competition often leads to innovation with offices striving to stand out from a busy crowd by offering a panoply of facilities and cool features.

Open memberships, members-only clubs, hot desking for freelancers, you name it, there will most likely be a coworking space to provide for it. With facilities ranging from cleaning services, through printing to infinite streams of roasted coffee and hip eateries, London's coworking spaces have set the bar high and they must keep it high if they want to succeed.

Here is a roundup of those spaces to quench your curiosity, spark your imagination and inspire you to make your coworking space more profitable.

Central Working Farringdon

Central Working Farringdon

Bathed in natural light, beautifully furnished and conveniently located, Central Working Farringdon offers stylish coworking spaces as well as a luxurious private office for up to 18 people. A membership-based club for start-ups, Central Working offers five locations across London.

Walthamstow Central Parade

Coworking space and bakery cafe by Gort Scott, London. Photography is by Dirk Lindner.

What used to be a rundown office block has become a hub for local creatives in London's Walthamstow. Renovated by London studio Gort Scott, the mixed-use building now features stylish coworking spaces with varied facilities, maker studios and a bakery cafe.

Google Campus

Campus London

The Google Campus might not have a slide like many Google offices do, but it offers coworking spaces particularly well-suited to tech startups. Designed by Jump Studios, the Google Campus boasts a Lego-clad reception desk, an ‘inspiration wall’, and is the perfect coworking space for those looking to network and meet like-minded people.

Ace Hotel Shoreditch

Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, by Universal Design Studio

More of a communal space than a coworking space per se, the Ace Hotel deserves a spot on this list nonetheless. Comfy sofas, a large communal table, cool furniture designed by local artists, a British eatery and, of course, great coffee, all conspire to make it a worthy contender.

The Office Group at The Shard

The Office Group at the Shard, by Archer Humphreys Architects

Considered to be the pioneer of shared workspaces in the UK, The Office Group prides itself on 27 locations in London alone. Although members can use any site, the coworking spaces on the 24th and 25th floor of The Shard and the panoramic views they offer might be hard to resist. The 33,600 sq ft space offers a mix of private offices, drop-in working areas, lounges and conference rooms available to any business.

WeWork Southbank

WeWork South Bank

Complete with a terrace, bike storage, a game lounge, showers and a communal penthouse space overlooking the Thames, WeWork South Bank is spread over five floors within the iconic Sea Containers House complex. A pet-friendly policy and praised location (WeWork South Bank sits among some of the city’s finest bars and eateries) contribute to a hip, design-led environment open to a vibrant, eclectic community.

What will the office of the future look like?

Ljubljana chamber of commerce boasts biophilic design

From energy-saving to family-conscious, the office of the future will be greener, smarter, and undoubtedly more high-tech.

Office design is changing fast. Designed to adapt to the workers' needs, the office today wants to be open yet flexible. But what about tomorrow? What trends are bound to shape the office of the future? 

Hot-desking

Hot desking inside Air bnb's Tokyo office
Hot-desking area inside Airbnb's Tokyo Office. Suppose Design Office

A recent CBRE report has found that, of the 400 multinationals surveyed, two-thirds plan on embracing the shared-desk concept by 2020.  As versatility becomes the new status quo in the workplace, traditional open-plan offices are already giving way to activity-based working solutions where flexibility is key and the price of a desk has to be justified. 

Energy-saving buildings

bloomberg hq in London is billed the most sustainable office in the world
European Headquarters for Bloomberg, London. Foster + Partners'

With concerns over climate change growing stronger every day, sustainable design is becoming a key practice for developers, architects and engineers alike. 

Anecdotally, Foster + Partners' recently completed European Headquarters for Bloomberg in London was recently voted as the most sustainable building in the world, and it serves as a great example for the future of commercial properties and green building. 

With a BREEAM score of 98.5, the office building features bronze louvres that adapt to changing weather conditions, sensors that adjust airflow according to occupancy, rainwater and water from basins and showers harvesting technologies, and of course, an indoor green wall. Combined with that, Bloomberg's employees will profit from sit-stand workstations, two on-site cycle centres as well as a wellness centre, accentuating the importance of wellbeing in the workplace

Wearables for office workers

don't slouch wearable for work
Anti-slouch wearable by Upright

From activity-trackers, through real-time translation devices, to posture-correcting wearables, high technology is creeping up in the workplace, whether you like it or not. As staff wellbeing becomes increasingly important for productivity and business, will the employer be responsible for providing health-tracking wearables at the office? 

Some American companies like IBM, Time Warner and Target have already partnered with activity-trackers like Fitbit and implemented their own corporate wellness initiatives.

Health insurance giant Vitality has set in place incentives for their employees: hit your step goal and get a discounted Apple Watch!

On-site nurseries

Office nursery visualisation for Second Home in London
On-site nursery proposal, inside London's Second Home Spitalfields. José Selgas and Lucía Cano

In 2003, Goldman Sachs London office opened the first (and to this date only) on-site nursery in the Square Mile.

According to the latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Goldman Sachs is one of only 5% of businesses in the UK to offer childcare in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, that 5 % is exclusively made up of large organisations with funds that match the financial requirements for an on-site creche in the workplace, but the benefits for companies are not insignificant. 

For starters, companies get tax breaks and relief for the day-to-day running and capital costs such as lighting, heating and the premise. On-site nurseries also have an impact on staff retention, making for an easier transition from maternity leave to work.

on-site nursery inside Goldman Sachs London
On-site nursery inside Goldman Sachs London office on Fleet Street

Despite their evident appeal, on-site nurseries at the office still pose significant challenges, as pointed out by Rohan Silva, former government adviser who now runs creative workspace Second Home in East London. These include a costly Ofsted accreditation process and frequent inspections, a chronic shortage of trained staff, strict regulations around designing and building childcare facilities and the need to shift the property developer's mindset. 

All things considered, on-site nurseries in the workplace are a profitable market for landlords and property agents to tap into. 

Biophilic design

Ljubljana chamber of commerce boasts biophilic design
The Ljubljana Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Slovenia. Sadar+Vuga Architects

In line with a more sustainable environment, the office of the future is set to embrace biophilic design. From planting living walls to maximising natural light and improving air quality, offices will pay more importance to staff wellbeing, health and productivity. 

3D printing

3D-printed office in Dubai
The world's first 3D-printed office in Dubai

The use of 3D printing in architecture has yet to reach its full potential and yet, Dubai has already unveiled a proof of concept set to redefine our expectations. 

The world's first 3D-printed office was built in 17 days and cost £110,000. It took a team effort of eighteen people only to oversee the process from start to finish. 

Technology research company Gartner expects 75% of companies to use 3D printing to increase manufacturing by 2020

Remote working

husk coffee and creative space in East London
Husk Coffee And Creative Space, East London

Having said all that, the office of the future might not be an office after all. Ever since the internet infiltrated the workplace in the late 1990s, remote working has been gaining momentum. Industry experts have even started to question the need for an office space

Coffee shops and hotel lobbies already double as informal office spaces, highlighting the possibility of an altogether barrier-free office.

So, how important is the need for an office space? Have we missed a crucial trend? Tweet us your thoughts - we love to be challenged. 

Opening image: Ljubljana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Slovenia. Sadar+Vuga Architects