The best technology office spaces are not just about kegerators and ping pong tables. A true geeky office space reflects the culture and style of the company, and we’ve seen plenty of inspiring and creative spaces in our recent travels.
That’s why we’re excited to present the voting in our latest category of the GeekWire Awards: Geekiest Office Space. The choice in this category will not be easy, so make sure to check out the five finalists (below) very carefully before casting your vote.
If you’re just tuning in, we’re in the midst of picking the winners in 13 categories — ranging from Startup of the Year to Innovation of the Year to Geek of the Year — as part of the annual GeekWire Awards, recognizing the top people, companies and innovations in Pacific Northwest technology.
Over the next few days, we’re opening voting in each of 13 categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. All of the winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Broadband — on May 7 at EMP.
A big thanks to Knoll, the presenting sponsor for the Geekiest Office Space category. Betsy Leto at Knoll spent the past week touring our nominated companies, helping to come with with the five finalists below. She said it was a “whirlwind” tour of great spaces, and not an easy choice by any means.
“We truly believe that a great workplace is about more than real estate,” said Leto. “It’s about empowering people and making them feel connected to the company brand, culture, and other employees. With this in mind, we feel the true differentiators for geeky spaces are companies whose culture is clearly, physically evident in their office spaces, and companies who focus on both the wellness and well-being of their employees.”
See below for photos and descriptions of each finalist, and vote here.
Here are descriptions and pictures of each space, courtesy of Knoll’s Betsy Leto.
Bungie’s office is set in a former movie theatre in Bellevue in the heart of a major shopping zone. Lighting is an architectural feature both in common areas where cubbies and stairways feature creative backlighting and glow, and in workstation areas where dimness rules and space is lit by the glow of monitors.
Built with agility in mind, all desks are on wheels and sit on a raised floor with power and data built in. Teams shuffle frequently to work on projects and they have a system of shrink-wrapping an entire workstation and moving it to its new home over weekends.
Their building has no heaters and all heat is generated by the massive amount of equipment they have constantly running. Common areas such as their custom-built movie theatre are designed for game reviewing but are also used for family movie nights and guest speakers.
Their Spandex Palace and sound studios are state-of-the-art labs designed to capture actor movement and custom sound generation for their games.
Culture is very important at Bungie. During the annual Pentathlon, teams split into groups to compete and celebrate new employees. Their free lunch program is intentionally designed to encourage casual collisions and friendship. Social responsibility is a driver at Bungie and they are very involved in Make-A-Wish as well as donating tablets for sick kids at Children’s Hospital.
Another rapid-growth company, Edifecs is located in the Bellefield Office Park which is a natural oasis. Nestled among trails and rivers, this company also places a strong emphasis on well-being. They offer kayaks and bikes for breaks during the day, and feature an in-office fitness center offering personal training and free classes. There is also a massage room and locker rooms onsite! This company also has an open office configuration with sit-to-stand desks.
Noteworthy office design items: There is a giant living wall in their entry way as well as thousands of plants scattered throughout the space to bring the outside in and improve air quality. They have used over 23 different paint colors throughout the space very thoughtfully to keep the space visually energizing. In addition to organic snacks, they also have an automated freshly-squeezed orange juice machine where you can actually see your oranges being squeezed while you wait.
They have experienced rapid growth necessitating a recent relocation to another space and are now located in the Puget Sound Energy Building, which is an energy-efficient, LEED-certified building. Their culture is one that is very focused on health, wellness and well-being. They employ TINYpulse surveys to capture just-in-time feedback on employee engagement and happiness which helps them continuously improve retention and culture.
Employees sit in an open office at height-adjustable desks, but beyond that, teams often take walking or outdoors meetings and will often engage in impromptu physical challenges. Literally, this was the only place where a group of employees dropped and did planks for several minutes. It was intense! They also provide all organic and healthy treats and beverages for their staff.
Noteworthy office design items: Their space has room to grow so they have plenty of impromptu meeting places in a variety of furniture arrangements. Their executives sit in the open office among the teams, in each of the four corners of the office, so they can keep a finger on the pulse of the culture. Half-completed puzzles and games sit out in open areas for teams to break away from their desks and refresh with some fun.
Moz’s space was thoughtfully designed to embody their TAGFEE (transparent, authentic, generous, fun, empathetic, exceptional) values. Their space is designed to celebrate their employees and culture, with large community zones used for meetings, speakers, movie nights and battle of the band competitions. They also bring the outside community in and they host events frequently, as well as provide space for local software teaching academies.
Noteworthy office design items: Moz employees also have height-adjustable work desks, but in designing the space, Moz knew that not everyone was comfortable working in an open office so the space was built with flexibility in mind. Employees can work from home, find a quiet refuge spaces within the office, or receive free noise-canceling headphones. Prime real estate zones have been reserved for team collaboration and community spaces.
Synapse is all about the people. In their community gathering space, each employee has a voice and an opportunity to share information and ask any questions.
Employees engage both at their desks and in 10,000 square feet of working labs where they are given any tools they need to complete their projects. In addition to team lunches, happy hours and bagel breakfasts, healthy competition is a critical part of their culture as interdisciplinary engineers must work together to build Synapse hardware. Employees engage in teambuilding through competitions like WITHeR CUP (Winter in the Harder Rain Commute Ultimate Party), gaining glory through biking to work in the dark Seattle winter.
Bike storage and showers are a given and special storage cabinets have been designed with ventilation to hasten drying of wet outer layers. All team members are encouraged to design and host events within their first six months, the most recent of which was an office mini golf challenge with putting greens made entirely of found objects. One green featured a synthetic and cold version of snow! There’s also a climbing wall and the remains of a halfpipe from the early start up days.
Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the GeekWire Awards. This event usually sells out. And this year, things will be especially geeky as we open up the amazing Star Wars costume exhibit at EMP to all GeekWire Awards guests. What better way to get your geek on than go face-to-face with Chewbacca!