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Think outside the cubicle: The world's top 10 coolest office spaces


If there’s one thing that connects all the world’s coolest workplaces, it’s that they’re a far cry from the cookie-cutter office template. Out are bland cubicles, harsh lighting and soulless pantry spaces with leaky kettles. Instead, employees within these creative workspaces are more likely to be hanging around in hammocks, working at stand-up desks and scooting around brightly decorated, airy spaces designed with creativity and freedom in mind.

Start planning how to use next year’s budget on an office upgrade – or simply how you can spruce up your own corner of the office for a more stimulating setting. Here are some inspiring examples from around the world.

1. Colle McVoy, Minneapolis, US

Bottoms up
The big question all bosses are asking: how do you incentivise your workforce? Minneapolis-based creative agency Colle McVoy offered one solution with TapServer, a beer dispenser developed in-house that rewards staff once if they’ve completed their timesheets. All staff have to do is tap their office smartcards on the machine to receive their just reward at the end of the day. The company was able to boost weekly completion to more than 90 percent – with the added benefit of getting coworkers together over a few brews.

2. King, Stockholm, Sweden

Fun in the forest
For its new Stockholm office, game development studio King (creators of Candy Crush) enlisted architects Adolfsson & Partners to build them a space as quirky and inventive as its games. The result is a range of workspaces with playful touches centering around a forest theme – seen in the meeting area speckled with silhouettes of trees and the artificial fish-filled ‘stream’ (interactive screens embedded into the floor) that runs through the office.

3. Second Home, Lisbon, Portugal

Nurture with nature
Creative ideas are sure to take root with the digital nomads hot-desking at Second Home’s co-working office in Lisbon. Spanish studio SelgasCano’s design optimises the natural light for the open-planned office, where more than 1,000 potted plants reside on long shared desks. The health benefits of being around nature have long been championed by outdoor enthusiasts and healthcare professionals alike (and a succulent or two make amazingly low-maintenance deskmates).

4. Codigo Del Sur, Montevideo, Uruguay

Old meets new
When Uruguayan mobile app developer Codigo Del Sur took a handsome 1920s mansion for its office in Montevideo, it enlisted the help of designer Nicolás Amarelle of architecture firm Alejandra Bartesaghi to update the interiors with colourful, contemporary touches. So across three storeys and 15 rooms you have leather Chesterfield sofas as well as video-art installations, indoor playrooms and a barbecue rooms plus an outdoor pool perfect for a splash in the summer.

5. Ideas Lab, Shanghai, China

Pipe dreams
Industrial-meets-modern minimalism is the theme of tech research firm Ideas Lab’s Shanghai office, designed by Shanghai design firm X+Living. The monochrome colour palette of the stark space is punctuated with pops of colour in the form of exposed ceiling pipes, repurposed chambers, spiral staircases and massive pipes that end in the middle of rooms, creating discrete spaces for work or relaxation.

6., Cirencester, UK

Fortress life
UK-based price comparison site keeps its employees safe and sound inside ‘The Castle’ – a repurposed, Grade-II listed Victorian castle in the west of England. Within the thick stone walls, design firm Interaction made things a bit more edgy and modern: Rolling Stones-themed bathrooms, a Star Wars decorated cinema and contemporary art works and arty decor throughout the property.

7. PwC, Basel, Switzerland

Sleep on it
PwC champions a wellness-minded approach in its Basel office, with the belief that healthy, well-fed and relaxed employees are happy, motivated and productive employees. Designed by Swiss studio Evolution Design, here you’ll find power nap lounges carpeted in calming greens and soft furnishings. Flexibility is built into the design: all workspaces are unassigned, so staff can pick and choose whichever desks or work area best suits their task or mood.

8. Selgas Cano, Madrid, Spain

Wide-open spaces
What could be more relaxing and rejuvenating for tired minds than a picture-perfect window facing nature? Spanish architecture practice Selgas Cano gives employees of its Madrid office a bug's eye view of their surroundings with a genius modern design that capitalises on the gorgeous natural beauty of the surrounding woods. A long window made of transparent acrylic forms the north-facing side of the tunnel-like office, while an opaque, south-facing wall provides shade from direct sunlight.

9. L’Oreal, Paris, France

Cool to the touch
The French cosmetics giant went for a suitably chic decor for its L’Oréal Divisions Sélectives offices on the banks of the Seine in Paris. Maison Sarah Lavoine and Mobilitis worked together on the design, adding baby blue and soft pink furnishings in the dining areas and natural tones throughout creating a welcoming, stylish work environment befitting such well-put-together staff.

10. Heldergroen, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Disappearing desks
A 2016 census report by the Hong Kong government found that tens of thousands of people were working 75 hours or more a week. But how do you address such a work-life imbalance? For creative agency Heldergroen’s office, located just outside Amsterdam, Zecc Architects’ solution was to make the desks disappear by winching them up into the ceiling at 6pm so workers can relax or go home, underlining the importance of a healthy work-life balance.

Click here to check out our interview with Aedas Interiors Executive Director Greg Farrell who shares his philosophy behind good design.

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