Offices should be fun, creative spaces that meet workers’ needs

Offices of the future will need to embrace creativity and innovation to attract and retain employees, just like Google has done with their offices around the world.

Offices of the future will need to embrace creativity and innovation to attract and retain employees, just like Google has done with their offices around the world.

Published Dec 17, 2021


If your company had an indoor slide instead of stairs, a tree house to escape to, or cubicles set up in the middle of nature, would you be more inclined to leave the comforts of your work-from-home set-up?

What if there were indoor gardens to relax in, green spaces for yoga, or a boxing ring to blow off steam?

These kinds of creative innovations offices of the future will offer – if they do not do so already. Such spaces are not only necessary for increased productivity and enjoyment at work, but will also lure workers back to the office, even if only for part of the week.

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As landlords battle to attract and retain office tenants – while many companies move their workforce online – there are expectations of an increase in creative approaches to fill vacancies in traditional office space, says John Jack, chief executive of Galetti Corporate Real Estate.

“Landlords are working hard to attract long-term tenants by offering attractive incentives such as on-site baristas, gyms with free access for tenants, hot showers and even rooftop bars for after-work drinks.”

Employees’ expectations have undoubtedly shifted, says Boxwood Property Fund chief executive and chairperson of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) Rob Kane. This means offices are evolving into multifunctional spaces luring people back with promises of communal hot spots, chill zones, and a focus on ideation and creation.

One such example is the company’s The Felix, which used to be the Picbel Parkade building in the Cape Town CBD. The space has been transformed into two inviting, energising communal spaces that sport funky giant murals of a tiger and panda bear, “plenty of spots for a lekker braai”, plug points for laptops, an indoor garden, an open-air meeting area, and a boxing gym.

“We are moving away from what a typical office looks and feels like, and the kind of facilities it might have offered, to something that is designed more with workers’ needs in mind.”

Citing a KPMG survey that found 69% of chief executive are planning to downsize their office spaces, Kane says offices will be re-imagined as places where workers will come together to brainstorm and socialise. In essence, they will be stations for innovation and meaningful conversation. Many traditional office spaces are being redesigned into a one-stop shop where people can stay, work, and play.

“Starbucks, for example, is making its headquarters feel more like an informal ‘coffee shop’ (appropriate) to foster fewer silos and more cooperation.”

He says 2022’s offices will need to be places for real connection, so the focus will be on building flexible spaces that encourage informal interaction.

“A braai in the middle of the office, green spaces for midday yoga, creativity capsules for daydreaming, coffee shops for caffeine-fuelled collaboration... These could all be run-of-the-mill in the multifunctional spaces of tomorrow.”

A South African company that has been offering one of the world’s coolest offices for years is Johannesburg-based presentation specialists Missing Link. In these offices you will find a tree house in which employees can work quietly or just relax; table tennis, a fireman’s pole, and even a parlour for the occasional tattoo or massage.

The aim of SelgasCano Architects' studio office, designed by the firm itself, is to work under the trees. The roof is as transparent as possible but, at the same time, the desk zone is isolated from direct sunlight.

Other awesome work spaces around the world can be found at these companies:

  • SelgasCano in Spain, where the building is located in the woods and half-buried in the ground.
  • Facebook in California, where you work in spaces with chalk boards, fun murals, and a variety of restaurants. It also has a hair salon.
  • Lego in Denmark, which boasts colourful spaces complete with Lego-building stations in each room.
  • Google worldwide, which is known for its restaurant, basketball courts, and its putting green, among other unconventional facilities.