It’s always interesting to take a look around other people’s offices to see what they are doing and to possibly look for new ideas for your next office redesign and refurbishment. In this article we take a look inside some of the larger London office refurbishments like Facebook, Yelp, Coca Cola, Google, Lego and Amazon; all big hitters who usually go out of their way to “set the trend” when it comes to London office refurbishment projects and who understand the implications of making sure they get the right work, relaxation and downtime balance.
Facebook’s Rathbone Square development in Fitzrovia, in the London borough of Camden near Tottenham Court Road covers 227,324 sq ft of space over 7 floors and houses around 1,000 tech employees across 30 teams. It’s based on the location of an old Royal Mail sorting office.
There is a central staircase which cuts through the whole building. A Facebook spokesperson has explained that this represents the social media company’s “connectivity” between everyone within the building.
The Facebook reception area has an Oculus Virtual Reality (VR) space which is open all day for staff (and friends and family) to test out the latest VR experiences.
Inside the reception is an Analogue Outpost where employees can express their creative side by taking part in artistic workshops. There are walls which are covered with art and feature walls such as the one by artist Jonathan Callan who created the “One and a Half Million Pages of Content” which is made from up-cycled books and magazines and which is a metaphor for the million and a half (and growing each day) Facebook pages.
Another feature of the office space is the unfinished ceiling. Facebook have left the ceiling this way to represent that the Facebook journey is only 1% complete; with lots left to do.
The first floor is the home of the workplace team. The second floor is where the ads engineering team can be found. The third floor is home to the community integrity teams. The fourth floor contains the London Infra (infrastructure and production engineering) teams. This floor also has a games room where people can go to relax and have a bit of fun and socialise with their colleagues. On the fifth floor the AR/VR teams come together to work on Oculus and camera AR products. On the sixth floor there are the technical recruitment teams. This floor has the perk of a doughnut bar where you can find doughnuts, ice-cream and fresh juices.
Colour is used to brighten the space through murals, artwork, signage and furniture and through the use of foliage.
Around the office space are futuristic “podtime” sleep pods where staff can take a break, switch off, recharge and then come back to work ready to get on with their work.
Meeting rooms are named after Games of Thrones characters and there is a mail hub that contains a van that looks like a Royal Mail van (a fun idea given the amount of mail that Facebook has to deliver internally each day).
The building houses a large canteen where food is served buffet style with options like pizza, chicken and salads; all free of charge. Micro kitchens (vending machines) are also found on all floors of the building where staff can get free tea, coffee, cold drinks and snacks.
In an attempt to bring employees closer to nature, throughout the building there are a great many plants and a roof top terrace where employees can go outside in good weather.
You can view the video by Tech Insider called Take A Tour Inside Facebook’s Engineering Office In London which gives a good overview of the inside of Facebook’s London office.
Amazon’s new head office in central London in located in the Principal Place building, in Norton Folgate, between Liverpool Street and Shoreditch High Street station. It comprises 15 storeys and 600,000 sq. ft housing around 900 staff. This new building adds to its London offices in Holborn and Barbican to support its retail, digital entertainment, devices and AWS businesses.
The office space has been designed to be intentionally “light and airy” with large empty spaces lit by dozens of overhead lights and with prominent Amazon branding. The use of colour is subtle but effective in continuing the feeling of space and luxury.
There are numerous seating areas with different seating options, again very much in line with colours which compliment the Amazon brand. Offices have adjustable sitting/standing desks for all employees.
There are several cafés and restaurants throughout the building allowing employees to take a break over a cup of coffee and to socialise over lunch without having to leave the building. There are also kitchen facilities where staff can make their own food or brew their own cup of tea or coffee.
There are also two outdoor spaces featuring a variety of trees and plants which encourage staff to walk and stretch their legs or to sit and take a break.
Coca Cola’s headquarters are based in a renovated 1920s building situated above a disused underground railway station on London’s Wimpole Street near Oxford Circus. Spanning four floors it houses around 200 Coca-Cola employees. There are a number of features within the building which demonstrate a commitment to the environment, including reclaimed timber floors and electricity generated from solar panels.
The office space is vibrant, modern and open plan and uses the Coca Cola’s well-recognised branding colour and other accent colours throughout the building. It features the usual types of desks and chairs alongside break out areas with more comfortable seating as well as large collaborative spaces and quiet rooms where staff can work with more privacy and in a quiet atmosphere conducive to more contemplative work.
Staff are expected to “speak to their colleagues rather than just sending loads of emails” and Charlotte Davies, communications manager for Coca Cola London believes the open plan aspect of the office layout “has brought different teams together” thereby improving communication across the company. There are also 21 meeting rooms all with the latest technology to allow staff to stay in touch with colleagues across the world.
There’s a cafeteria which offers a range of food from sandwiches and salads to hot dishes and of course hot and cold drinks including Coca-Cola’s own brands, all of which are free.
Staff are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle through the facilities provided which includes changing rooms for those who want to cycle to work. There is even space which incorporates stepped seating, which while normally used for presentations, can also be used for exercises classes! The building also has a rooftop terrace where employees can walk around or take a seat in any one of the many seating areas that have chairs made from recycled bottles.
The Yelp office located in London’s Marylebone neighbourhood takes up 13,800-square-foot of London office space.
Subtle Yelp branding can be found throughout the office area and the decor is soothing while being trendy. For the most part the colour scheme is black and white with accent colours introduced through the use of furniture.
The office design is open and airy to give a sense of space. The reception area is large with very little furniture except a reception desk and a small seating area and a private meeting room.
The workspace is open plan with separate small and large office areas for meetings alongside break out areas for staff to move away from their desks to a more informal seating space with bench like seating.
To encourage staff to relax and socialise there is also “relax room” kitted out with a ping pong table and football table.
An open plan kitchen and site down cafeteria area allow staff to prepare their own snacks or lunch and eat together.
Google’s St Giles High St, London office which is over 20,000 square of space accommodates around 180 workers. Like its other London office spaces Google office space features “plenty of room to collaborate, play, get work done and inspire”. Google say they “tackle the workplace like our engineers tackle computer science – with data and a willingness to try new things and think outside the cube”.
This can be clearly seen when you look at Google’s London office interior which focuses on creating a space which is quirky, bright and more than a little out of the ordinary. The space is designed to encourage collaboration and to bring people together while at the same time “taking care of staff health and well-being” through the use of fun break out areas whose sole purpose is to inspire.
With so many different rooms and so many different layouts, furniture and decorations there is a wealth of office space to choose from depending on your mood. From traditional office desks to benches, to stepped seating, round sofa seating, small cubby holes and comfy leather armchairs – the sky is the limit.
Meeting areas come in all shapes and forms from formal presentation areas to smaller “speak easy” rooms to informal break out areas which can also function as informal meeting spaces.
There are mobile (driven by a bike) coffee and snack carts which provide drinks and snacks on the go, as well as snack bars and kitchen areas where staff can cater to their own needs.
Google, like Facebook, Amazon and Coca Cola, offer “play areas” with snooker, football and table tennis tables where staff can take some downtime and recharge. There are also outdoor spaces where employees can go to enjoy the fresh air away from their office desk. In the spirit of encouraging staff to stay healthy the London Google office also has a gymnasium and bike storage facility to encourage staff to cycle to work.
Lego’s London office in central London is in the renovated office building, New Fetter Place, located on New Fetter Lane. It houses more than 200 employees, and offers a unique working environment. Of course it wouldn’t be Lego if they hadn’t stamped their “branding” into every design aspect of the office space with Lego built into the walls, a brick archway and Lego play-zones. Even the staircase pillars look like Lego pieces. Each of the office floors has a very different tone but they all loyal to the Lego brand.
Bali Padda, COO and Executive Vice President of the Lego Group said “We have introduced an entirely new way of working in this office, which encourages collaboration and chance encounters that can spark new ideas and opportunities. The lack of fixed seating is a very tangible consequence but the biggest impact is that the traditional, physical concept of ‘a department’ has been dissolved and that we enable cross-organisational collaboration even more than we are used to. For us, this is a move towards an office culture that embraces the diversity of the entire organisation and offers a work environment that allows employees from very different parts of our organisation to learn from each other and thereby allows us to think and act more holistically – ultimately making better decisions.”
Based on Lego’s objectives they have divided their office space into flexible work zones, doing away with “departments”. The zones have no assigned desks (and no manager’s offices). Instead people choose to work in whatever setting best supports the work they are doing and allows them to work with others thereby increasing collaboration.
There are also break out areas and quiet areas where staff can go to recharge and relax.
Are There Themes We Can Draw On From These London Office Refurbishments?
Even when looking at large London offices of major brands there are always things you can take away from their designs and office layouts.
Did you notice any themes when reading about Facebook, Yelp, Coca Cola, Google, Lego or Amazon offices?
One of the main areas all of these companies focus on is having areas where staff can go to relax and recharge. The idea of breakout areas is now widely recognised as being vital for the health and well-being of employees.
You could argue that these large office areas have plenty of room to provide break out areas where smaller offices don’t – however given the wealth of research/information today on how important it is to ensure staff are able to take breaks away from their desk and the innovative new ways that can be used to create “peaceful” spaces where people can unwind, it’s worth investing some time in looking at how to incorporate a break out area(s) into your next office refurbishment.
A second common factor in many of the office designs above is the use of plants and biophilic (love of nature) design elements. Biophilic design incorporates direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment and given that we are hard-wired to prefer and perform better in natural settings bringing the outside inside incorporating plants into the office design is a great way of bringing the two together.
Some of the companies above also provide outdoor spaces for their staff as an extension of their office areas to further encourage staff to work or relax in an environment which is conducive to meeting their natural need for nature.
A third theme is the use of colour to accentuate space or zones within these London offices. Some of the companies like Lego use their brand colours, yellow with some accents of red, around the office areas. As yellow is seen as bright and cheerful, it’s a great colour to lift spirits and combat stress. We know colour can influence how we feel, from being energised to soothed; from sparking our imagination to providing a relaxing atmosphere; colour can have a huge impact on an office refurbishment.
How We Can Help
Contact JBH Refurbishments on 0333 207 0339 or via our contact form to discuss your project and make the most of your Kent and London office refurbishments with great design ideas that will make the most of your office while helping you to meet your short and long term space needs.