Individual, independent, international – the new kind of work asks for a new kind of offices. No wonder, California is the avant-garde role model when it comes to co-working and office-hosting.
Is this impressive former factory in Playa Vista an office complex, a hipster gallery or a cool yoga studio? The entry glass doors at CTRL Collective near Los Angeles open up to a spectacular display in the light flooded hallways. Dazzling pop art adorn the walls, and neon letters blink the company’s motto in bright orange: „Work Happy“. An invisible mannequin sports a white bridal dress covered in bold Jackson Pollack type splashes of colorful paint. The bride who left her dress here indeed married in these halls. Seriously, who loves their office so much they are willing to tie the knot there? „At CTRL we are all about the experience”, says Marylinn Gunawan, Director of Operations. „We want people to LOVE coming here.“ Two guys take a break in the event hall by playing a match at one of the ping-pong tables, two women lounge in the ocean blue easy chairs with their laptops, while their dogs frolic at the water bowls that are marked Live Love Bark. Angelinos call this “work-life-blending”.
California is re-inventing the work space. Millennials no longer want to be stuck at their desks in small cubicles, but rather enjoy the flexibility, comfort and independence of increasingly popular creative co-hosting platforms such as CTRL, WeWork or Gensler’s C3. „Flexibility, community, creativity,“ says software-developer George Rhodes about his motivation to join a co-hosting network. „I hope my app will be the next big thing, and this place here is ideal for networking.“
Start-ups, who don’t know yet how much space they will need next year or where they will find their clients, can join office-hosting projects such as We Work, which offers locations in 43 cities or newcomer CTRL Collective, which is rapidly expanding – in its Playa Vista location alone 550 people from 120 companies work together. The big draw: Contracts are month to month, with no long-term commitment. At CTRL, the monthly fee starts at $79 for a part-time spot and $199 full-time. Included are all the amenities: 3D printer, legal advice, professional film and VR studios, in-house yoga and meditation, conference rooms, event spaces, and even resident artist Tyler Ramsey. “When I wanted to give my fiancé a very special present, I went to Tyler,“ Doug McClurg, CTRL’s Communities Director raves, “and he designed a completely unique piece of art with me.“
The goal of this new office model: Harnessing the creative potential of every single member. “Companies have realized that the creativity of their workers is the most valuable resource,” broker Gayle Landes acknowledges. As the president of Pacific Equity Partners she has specialized in office space for creative and entertainment clients. Gone are the days where everyone retreats to their private offices. A “palette of options” with a mix of individual desks, event spaces, meetings rooms, sound-proof “cocoon rooms” for distraction-free focus, meditation spaces and open bars allow for daily flexibility.
The new focus on team work and the „campus model“ of pioneers such as Google, Apple, and Facebook revolutionized office design, even in smaller companies. Whether it’s gaming companies like Riot Games, content providers like NetFlix, Hulu, HBO, YouTube or Snap Chat, they are all trending towards designing their workplaces to encourage interaction, creative stimulation and synergy. Community instead of hierarchy, innovation instead of following orders from above, creativity instead of playing by the old rule books – these challenges call for new spaces. „It`s not about the „I“, but the „We“,“ office trend scout Raphael Gielgen at Vitra AG acknowledges. “The office design is crucial. Which office space is the bench mark for our business model? Success depends on bringing together the right people at the right time, so they can interact and cooperate until something new emerges that defies expectations.” Ping-pong matches, Red Bull events, and the in-house yoga classes at CTRL bring together its diverse clientele that often has little in common, but benefit from each other: lawyers, software developers, journalists, film makers.
The happiest work places are about much more than design. Studies show that nothing motivates workers more than the motivation to help others. Therefore CTRL Collective established „the 80/20-rule”, Doug McClurg, the young, tattooed Communities Manager explains. “Everybody spends 80 percent of their time working on their projects, and offers 20 percent of their time to give back to the community.” Tyler Ramsey, the in-house artist, therefore does not hesitate to invite the visitor to pick up a bright red color bottle and splash his half-finished canvas with bold strokes. “It`s not a distraction when people come by to collaborate,“ the tall blonde surfer enthuses, „on the contrary, playing together is where the fun is. I get so much energy from the people who work here and stop by in my studio.“ Of course, Playa Vista has an added advantage that not every office can boast: With the bicycles that CTRL lends out for free, it`s only five minutes to the beach. And nothing furthers work-life-balance than finishing a day of work with a ride into the sunset along the waves of the Pacific.
Text: Michaela Haas
Mr. Selz, our world of work is changing rapidly. What is BSH doing to adapt its workplaces to these new conditions? We at BSH have also resolved to change towards modern office concepts and we are gradually implementing these – including here at the Munich headquarters. Instead of working from individual offices, all our employees – from executives to consultants – work in the same environment. We have a suitable space for every work situation, such as couch corners, rest areas and sound-proof rooms that are used for purposes such as Skype meetings or telephone cubicles.
What do the employees think of this? It is well received, even if it has taken a little time for some people to get used to it. In any event, it is very good for fostering communication. For example, we have built a new canteen that is open all day. In addition, we have a new conference zone that can be used in various ways.
Does management also work from the new workstations? Of course. We have combined the four individual offices and the foyers to create a veritable living environment in which there are several glass elements and a large wooden table in the middle, where the executives work together. There are only a few very small private rooms for those times when someone needs to have a confidential personal conversation or the like. The big advantage is that we are now much more likely to have spontaneous responses among ourselves.
What are the fundamental considerations behind the new workstations? We simply have to network more. That is hard to do from your conventional desk workstation, and we need to force this using mobile work environments. The world is changing, and our office environment needs to get faster and more agile. I think we are well on our way towards achieving this.
Photo at top: ©Katelyn Perry/WeWork
Photo teaserimage on startpage: ©Netflix