Google and other tech firms may have started the trend of the cool office, but these super awesome workplaces seem to be popping up all over the place now. You can find industry headquarters in everything from the legal field to retail boasting about their hip office environs in “happening” locations all over the U.S. and abroad. A recent Observer article by Kim Velsey takes a long, hard look at how this movement has gained momentum over the last decade.
Velsey acknowledges the attraction of perks ranging from juice bars, pool tables, video arcades and indoor scooters to a surprise visit from a mini horse. Yet she also cautions that there are some almost cult-like aspects to the kind of devotion “cool” employers seem to desire from their employees. Luring office workers into spending more and more time in the workplace does seem malevolent. Yet employers are also being urged to “create more engagement” and help employees feel happier in the office. Where do you draw the line between enough and too much?
Rushing to Make Changes Is Uncool
We think there are some pros and cons to consider before you decide to upgrade your office space and your office culture to try to compete with the coolness trend.
- Do you really have the money to make a substantial change in your office environment? What about when workers get bored with the new amenities and want something fresh? Are you willing to keep innovating and renovating in an endless cycle to keep up with other cool employers?
- Will you need to create new boundaries to ensure workers don’t abuse their newfound freedom to “slack off” and play foosball at work? Will these be written guidelines, or can you implicitly create the habits you want through cultural pressure?
- How will you deal with backlash if you have to roll back some of the perks later?
- Will having employees post Instagram photos of their workplace all the time be a good or a bad thing for your corporate brand? Does the change mesh with your business media strategy?
Our advice would be to take it slow rather than trying to revamp your business image overnight. Start with changes that benefit everyone – such as improving the lighting, controlling noise, and making the office more comfortable and functional. Then, turn your attention to making it both beautiful and fun in ways that are in alignment with your particular culture. Remember, you have to be authentic to be cool!