Having slides, play areas, toys, and amazingly designed offices is certainly the trend these days amongst companies that are serious about creating great places to work and there is good reason for it. Investing in an awesome office space draws more media attention and more recruits, makes employees feel happy, appreciated, and proud, and sparks creativity and ownership. All awesome things.
So why aren’t more companies ditching the cubicles and pimping out their offices?
Because it’s freaking expensive, time consuming, and an uphill battle. People think, “damn I’d like to give my employees an atmosphere like that” but then they come up against reality and all of a sudden those boring, light-grey cubicles don’t look so bad after all.
Let’s think about it from the point where Boss-Man thinks, “damn, I’d like to have a life-size tree house in my office.” In order to go from idea to pimpin’ he has to…
- Get over the initial sticker shock and cough up the $100,000 it’s going to cost.
- Find an architecture/design company who can think this big. In my experience when you tell the typical architecture firm that you want to create a “fun” office they come back with maroon desks and some art work. Very few firms in the country are successful at truly pimping out an office. Kahler Slater is the best one I know of but whoever did the tree house for Red Frog deserves a shout-out too.
- Convince the landlord that adding a tree house to her office space is a good idea and get approval to do so.
- Spend a ton of time explaining to the corporate lawyers that the benefits of a tree house far outweigh the possibility that an employee will fall from a branch and sue the company.
It’s hard work creating an office space this crazy but the companies that pull it off understand that being over-the-top sends a very clear message to their current and future employees. By saying nothing at all, the sheer magnitude of the office space screams “Look at how much I’m willing to invest in creating an awesome work environment. If you think this is over-the-top imagine how much time and money I’m willing to invest in you.”
That’s powerful stuff but only the most dedicated companies’ end up being able to pull it off. Is yours one of them?
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.