When many people think of the typical work environment they envision windowless offices, rows of cubicles, and dark colors. But many companies are embracing nontraditional work spaces because unusual changes in where you work could have a major impact on the bottom line.
Would you get your best work done in a private office with a door? What about a desk out in the open? Or how about an office with a roller-skating receptionist? Yes, that's right. The receptionist at Silverline, a cloud computing consulting company in Union Square in Manhattan, gets around on her own set of wheels.
And that's not the only way the 5-year-old business is shaking things up. The company has a lounge with shuffleboard and pingpong tables, and a full stocked café with a beer keg.
Silverline co-founder Rich Resnick says afternoons are a great time in the office. Around 4:30 or 5 p.m., an employee will go around delivering pints. That's when people start gravitating towards the café area to unwind.
Co-founder Gireesh Sonnad says the office also has yoga classes on Tuesday mornings, catered lunches on Wednesdays, bagel Fridays, and company-wide massages once a month.
Sound like all play and no work? Resnick says it is a company of hardworking people in a tough business. Employees at Silverline work hard, but also kick back and have a good time.
That's just what social psychologist Ron Friedman likes to see. The author of "The Best Place to Work," Friedman says that working all the time does not make you a better employee. Friedman even supports drinking on the job -- in moderation. He says alcohol is a social lubricant that helps people get along. Research even shows that in creative fields we get some of our best ideas after a glass of wine in the evening.
Over at Etsy headquarters in Brooklyn, community and comfort are key. The online handmade marketplace is all about self-expression. Sarah Starpoli is a culture and engagement manager, who focuses on employee experience. Starpoli says new hires at Etsy get a $100 gift card to spend on Etsy to decorate their workspace.
Friedman says that directly contributes to better job performance. Research shows that productivity shoots up when employees are able to customize their space. Etsy also gives employees an opportunity to chill out with yoga, breathing, and meditation classes. And it has a program called Eatsy that brings in locally sourced food twice a week.
Starpoli says Eatsy encourages employees to meet and eat with different people and come up with great ideas for the site.
Back in Manhattan, in the Garment District, Starwood Hotels has just unveiled its new Starlab, a brand innovation studio where teams can work in a creative environment. The focus here is on collaboration.
Mike Tiedy, the senior vice president of global brand design for Starwood, says the conference rooms in the Starlab are decorated to look like different Starwood hotels. The W Hotel room has a big emphasis on beverages, with a bar and stool seating for meetings.
Other features of the Starlab include a digital chandelier that broadcasts tweets from hotel guests in real time, an Instagram wall, life-sized inspiration boards, meeting rooms designed like libraries with stadium seating, and plenty of windows. The Starlab is built around a terrace that lets a lot of sunlight in.
Friedman says this is extremely important. Daylight lowers blood pressure and increases our body's production of serotonin, which puts us in a good mood. It's a key component of a productive environment. And according to Friedman, our environment has a profound impact on the way that we think. He says that when we're given an environment that helps us do our work, we're a lot more impactful in the work that we do.