Collaborative office space was originally conceived by Steve Jobs for his new Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, CA. Besides his attention to aesthetic detail, he was concerned with people’s approach to work. He believed that employees working independently of each other was counter-productive to creativity, the bedrock upon which Apple and Pixar were built. So the design of his office space included opportunities for chance encounters. These chance encounters would give people the opportunity to meet, connect and collaborate. Steve understood that collaboration fosters creativity which leads to innovation.
This approach appealed to the social instincts of the millennial generation who were rapidly becoming the dominant workforce in the marketplace. This approach was soon adopted by all the major tech firms including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Oracle, etc.
As more and more tech companies adopted this approach to office space they began to realize the benefits of collaborative office space:
- Reduced Footprint – Traditional office spaces are designed based on allocation of 250 – 300 square feet per person, (“SFPP”). Some industries such as legal use even more – up to 350 SFPP. However, the collaborative office space has moved away from the individual workstations and caves, (private offices). Instead of 36 or 42 square foot workstations the employees are now sitting at benches. Allocating 2 feet per person, a 48 square foot area can accommodate 4 employees. Instead of a 10’ X 12’ cave for one manager, that 120 square foot area can accommodate up to 3 – 4 managers. This represents a 20 to 40% reduction in space. Although the cost per square foot remains the same, the reduced square footage represents 20 to 40 percent of rental costs over the term of the lease.
- Google Space – Google has taken collaborative space to the next level. So much that now this type of space is also called Google space. Their addition of perks such as gourmet food, massages, swimming pools, workout equipment, rock climbing walls, rooftop gardens, and bike storage rooms are bait to attract top talent. As a result, the need for head hunters and staffing companies has been minimized since top talent is now pursuing Google and other companies that have followed their lead. The reduced use of headhunters and staffing companies represents additional savings for these companies.
- Longer Work Hours – Google space has become so attractive to Millennials that they don’t want to leave. They are working longer and longer hours. Since they are being fed gourmet food and have their dogs at their side, they no longer have to leave for supper. By improving the work/life factors, millennials are converging their office life and home life.
- Fewer Sick Days – Wellness has become a major component of collaborative space. Healthy foods, walking areas, gyms, and bike storage have become staples of Google space. Keeping the millennial employees physically active and eating healthy promotes wellness resulting in fewer sick days.
- Innovation – The very nature of collaborative space is to promote creativity and innovation. Since all tech companies thrive on innovation, collaborative office space has become a major contributor to their success. This article in IT Wire discusses improving productivity by redesigning office layouts and improving communication by collaboration.
- Brand Promotion – The design of collaborative office space includes the promotion of the company’s brand. This helps to sell the company and its products to potential clients as well as prospective employees. The building in which the company is housed as well as the space design contribute to the marketing tools for today’s tech companies.
These factors are the reasons that all of the world’s major tech companies are adopting collaborative/Google space. The benefits are too overwhelming to ignore: innovation, hiring and retaining talent, increased productivity, brand promotion and reduced costs. Tech companies are universally embracing this approach as their office space has become a key component to the success of their company.