For These Offices, Playground Equipment is not Just for Kids
The connection between play and productivity is well established. The dopamine produced by our brains during play activities is a powerful motivator. The effects of which last far beyond the initial period of play and positively impact a person’s approach to both menial tasks and complex problem solving. As columnist Eric Holtclaw noted in a column for Inc.com:
“Playing games impacts the brain positively by increasing motivation, improving memory, driving efficiency, and at even enhancing feelings of empathy among your team.”
Traditional attitudes towards the work environment keep the ideas of work and play separate. “Work hard, play hard,” is a mantra often applied by many ambitious employees. Yet more and more research shows we may have things backwards. Incorporating playground equipment into the work environment often increases productivity and job satisfaction. In particular, the swift and sudden physical shift in perspective and momentum provided by a well-designed slide can refresh and reinvigorate a tired mind’s approach to the work at hand.
Dynamic companies operating in emerging and highly competitive fields have turned to playground equipment, and office slides in particular, to provide their employees and the organization as a whole an edge in business. The following examples of office slides may look like fun. In reality, they are very serious business.
Health Diagnostic Lab’s Slide Between Office Floors
Working with McKinney USA, Goric designed a quicker and significantly more fun way to travel between office floors for Virginia’s Health Diagnostic Lab. Employees can take a spiral slide between the third and second floors, and even all the way from the fourth floor to ground level. Founded in 2009, the company has grown quickly from a handful of workers to well over 700 employees. In 2014, it was ranked #3 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Top Ten Workplaces with 500 or More Employees. Health Diagnostic Lab has a number of employee-focused policies that contribute to its success, but everyone credits the spiral slide as an immediate representation of the company’s successful focus on innovation.
Camp Red Frog’s Treehouse Slide
Created by the design firm Nelson, Red Frog’s headquarters in Chicago boasts a climbing wall, conference table made from legos, an interactive hallway with “high-five hands,” and another informal conference room nestled into a treehouse at the center of the workspace. It’s proven to be a popular ad-hoc meeting space for employee collaboration, and there is no better way to leave a productive meeting than by slide. As an event planner, Red Frog considers their playful office space to be the perfect combination of fun and functionality. The company’s employees certainly seem to enthusiastically agree.
Resignation Media / theCHIVE’s Tasteful Wooden Slide
Resignation Media houses a dozen independent digital and lifestyle brands, including theCHIVE, a photo-entertainment website. When they built their new 14,000 sq ft office space in downtown Austin in 2014, they knew that they wanted a space that could quickly and easily morph from a professional business setting to a more casual social atmosphere, with the goal of encouraging employees to socialize more often. They turned to Chioco Designs to make their vision a reality. The custom two-story adult slide is at the very center of the action. Employees use it to quickly travel from the upstairs offices to the ground floor. Visually striking, demonstrably fun, and completely functional, this office slide strikes that perfect balance between serious fun and playful work.
Box.net’s Reception Slide
When the cloud storage company Box.net approached the archetict firm Fennie+Mehl for their new office space, the goal was recruitment. The company needed to aggressively attract and retain talented developers in order to maintain its rapid growth. They hoped to communicate an atmosphere buzzing with creative energy and active employees from the moment a person stepped through their doors. With a two-story slide connecting the first two floors to the company’s front door, the message certainly got across. Though the office was only recently completed in 2012, that can be a lifetime in the tech world, and Box.net actually outgrew the space in just 18 months. The company really does credit the office’s design with helping to recruit top talent and maintain their momentum, and the slide was a central and captivating piece.
AWeber Communication’s Dual Atrium Slides
When AWeber decided to relocate their headquarters to Chalfont, PA in 2013, they saw it as an opportunity to express the company’s “Core Values” through architectural design. One of the most important of those core values is, “Don’t Take Ourselves Too Seriously; Have Fun.” They approached the firm Wulff Architects to make their vision of a space where employees can work hard while enjoying themselves a reality. The results is an LEED Gold certified 71,000 sq ft building that boasts game areas, a yoga room, volleyball court, and, of course, two 14-feet-high slides that descend directly into the company’s atrium. It all combines to prove, once again, that play can be a powerful force in business, and that facilitating play-like activities with innovative designs and adult-focused playground equipment can serve as the core reason employees and companies succeed.
Accessible Innovation for Every Business
It is common to associate innovative workspaces with high-flying tech companies in Silicon Valley. They are often both adept at grabbing headlines and willing to experiment more than traditional companies. However, the perception is not entirely true. Only one company in this post, Box.net, is a tech company located on the West Coast. The others are scattered all throughout the United States, and many more examples could be easily included. The point being that providing employees the benefits of regular play does not have to mean sticking a foosball table into the office break room. Slides offer a visually compelling statement, but there are many different ways to incorporate playscape design and playground equipment into the office environment. Though costs must always be a consideration, as the companies showcased in this post demonstrate, the potential for significant benefits to the bottom line should not be overlooked.