Posted by Steve Taylor on Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 00:00
Creative office spaces come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing is for sure – a cohesive office is fuel for brilliant ideas.
As I'm set to hit the 90-day mark of The Great Agency Adventure, I can't help but reflect on where I've been. I've seen vast cityscapes, lavish museums, beautiful parks and charming cobblestone lanes. Yet, some of the most beautiful places I've seen are the agencies themselves.
Given that each agency I've encountered is able to develop such brilliant creative, you'd think their similarities would be glaring. Yet, I've come to find that while they share certain elements, these agencies use their workspace in a manner that's conducive to their own creative process. It's truly a wonder to see it with my own eyes.
All Spaces Are Not Created Equal
Although still in the early stages of my career, I've worked in a variety of offices over the years. I've come to realize that an agency's workspace acts as a gateway to what the company is all about. Whether it's intentional or not, you can usually get a pretty accurate idea of what an agency is striving for through the space it inhabits.
Of course, that's not always a good thing for agency owners and employees. If you have too much fun, clients may question your work ethic. If you do the opposite, top talent may question working with you. It's a fine balance, but one that's unique to each agency. The three I've visited so far have designed creative workspaces that push their teams and strengthen their bottom lines.
So, let's take a look at how these agencies stack up.
Recess Creative is housed in a long "railroad-style" office on the first floor of their Lakeside Avenue space. The moment you walk in the door, you're greeted with a charm that perfectly suits the team's personality. You'll find walls adorned with awards and work samples, windows covered with dry-erase ideas and desks filled with trinkets, toys and NERF guns.
Sectioned off into offices and conference rooms, each contained space offers its own unique personality – from one that boasts two classic arcade machines to a backroom that houses the office ping-pong table.
While at first glance, their placement may seem random, closer observation will show that these deliberate accents embody the team's controlled chaos approach to creative. Everyone in the office knows how to have fun and that's a fact they don't shy away from. Of course, the same goes for their work. They've discovered the perfect blend of the two and it shows not only in what they do, but also in where they do it.
Head over to Downtown Crossing and you'll find BEAM Interactive sitting one floor above a swank Walgreens drugstore. Take the elevator to the second floor and you're met with a large wooden desk that's accented by dancing images on the wall and a rather comfortable couch to the right. Warm and cozy, this area opens into a large, industrial space that wraps around the elevator in two parallel circles.
As you explore BEAM's creative office space, you'll find long rows of desks, grouped into dedicated sections. These are deliberately set up to allow the various teams easier access to one another. You'll also find several conference rooms of various sizes and many conveniently placed meeting spaces. From adjoined lime green diner booths, to walls coated in dry-erase and chalkboard paint, every inch of the office is designed to encourage collaboration among the teams.
Whether you're meeting to discuss the latest project or simply having a breakout session to develop new ideas, these areas are placed away from the workstations, so meetings can take place at any time, without interrupting the daily workflow. Much like Recess, these design elements combine into a creative space that's perfect for BEAM's approach to its work.
New York City
We Are Social sits in the trendy SoHo neighborhood, one block from the fashionable Broadway shops. Their office space is the smallest of the three, yet its personality shines through no less. Visitors are greeted with a bright red door that opens into a large room, beaming with energy. Clusters of modern glass desks fill the space from wall to wall, stimulating an always-lively atmosphere – the ideal environment for the team's buzzing energy.
Three conference rooms, a small kitchen and several cozy lounging areas complete the office space, while creative decorations add a splash of flair and color. Much like social media, We Are Social's approach to creative is to have an always-on attitude and that's why the office is designed to keep the conversations frequent and ongoing.
Creative Office Space Revelations
Some agencies tend to overwhelm their creative office space with stimulating imagery and sought-after perks like cafés, gyms and rec rooms, yet the three agencies I've visited recognize that an agency's personality shouldn't rely on overly frivolous offerings.
If you fill a space with the sole purpose of pushing what you want the agency to be and not what it truly is, you run the risk of overwhelming the creative process and underwhelming those coming into the agency.
Recess, BEAM and We Are Social each have a space that's real, unique and organic, and in the end, these creative workspaces better stimulate collaboration and creativity, while instilling the essence of who they are.
Being genuine always trumps being trendy.
To see more photos from Steve's agency adventures, visit his website.