The era of the basic cubical is over. The world’s top companies seem to one-up each other with each new headquarters, and on-site gyms and snacks are no longer enough: Treehouses, botanical gardens, and even childlike wonders like ball pits and Ferris wheels are becoming part of the new normal. And while the global pandemic had millions of people working from home, many have begun to return to the office. Here are a few of the most creative, amenity-rich, and over-the-top offices so lavish you may never want to leave work.
The inspiration behind the name of internet giant Google’s 26-acre campus in Mountain View, California is both a blend of Google and Complex and a play on Googolplex, a number that is followed by 100 zeros. Android Park, the campus’ whimsical sculpture park, features brightly-colored foam figures of sweet treats like red velvet cake and Oreos, each a code name for a version of the Android operating system. Its recreation offerings go far beyond a gym — workers can enjoy beach volleyball, bowling, and swimming, and travel around campus on shared bicycles. Activities on offer also include an arcade, ping-pong, and billiards.
Employees get all meals free of charge at cafes and snack rooms throughout the campus and free haircuts at an on-site salon. If they’re feeling under the weather, they can pay a visit to a doctor without leaving work. For a small fee, they can even get a massage, although some employees probably prefer to leave work to unwind.
Global toymaker LEGO is midway through a massive update to their headquarters in Billund, Denmark. In 2019, the first phase debuted: A building with large LEGO bricks accenting the facade, with a cantilevered bright-yellow brick making up the top floor. The interior is even showier, with each floor adopting a color scheme from a basic brick color. Even the skylight in the building’s atrium looks like the top of a LEGO brick. When the project is finished this year, the campus will include parks and playgrounds open to the public. Its LEGO People House will provide accommodation for out-of-town employees with maker space for catching up on work or side projects.
Billund is a company town, and the campus is surrounded by elaborate LEGO sites, including the original Legoland. Its visitor center, completed in 2017, resembles a stack of bricks from above; at eye level, each “brick” is a colorful terrace full of interactive LEGO sculptures. The building also includes a cafe with meals served by robots in LEGO-shaped boxes.
For its Menlo Park, California headquarters, social media behemoth Facebook enlisted world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to design its newest building, MPK 21. The architect created the highly-sustainable building as if it was its own small town, with a thoroughfare great hall down the middle and cafes, common areas, and smaller office neighborhoods around it. Redwood trees surround “town square” areas, and a botanical garden allows employees to take in some extra nature. Like nearby Facebook office building MPK 20, it has a rooftop park — but this one is a whopping nine acres. The company claims this building has the largest open-office layout in the world, with one room able to accommodate 2,800 employees.
Airbnb’s San Francisco, California headquarters was, appropriately, designed in-house around both destinations and experiences. Cities of the world, including Kyoto, Japan and Buenos Aires, Argentina make up the themes for each floor and its amenities. Office and collaboration spaces are separated into 16 distinct “neighborhoods,” each with distinctive furnishing and design elements. Work areas mimic the kinds of accommodations one might book on the hospitality platform, like small meeting spaces styled as tents, complete with curtains that close, and a conference room with a log cabin interior. Cafes throughout the building take design elements and cuisines from destinations like Cairo, Egypt and Mumbai, India.
Best known for their MyChart system, medical software maker Epic’s headquarters near Madison, Wisconsin is notorious for its Disneyland-like campus. Different office buildings have bold themes, like a farm-inspired office inside a red barn. A building called “Heaven” features a slide between white upper floors — and lower levels dubbed “Hell,” reachable via elevator with demon-voice sound effects. Over a construction bridge built from scraps of its first campus, a rickety-looking (but safe) treehouse holds functional, powered workspaces inside. It’s rich in fan service, too, with an outdoor path surrounded by storefronts inspired by Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. An Indiana Jones tunnel is decorated with vines and a golden idol, with sounds of water and roaring animals piped in. Sprinkled throughout are whimsical works by local artists, like a metal dragon in a birdcage and a banana made out of bottle caps.
Instagram’s New York City office, designed by Gehry Partners, is, appropriately, extremely Instagrammable. Around every corner, a photo-ready backdrop is available for the perfect selfie, from a living wall dense with foliage to a colorful geometric dome. Aside from the bright creative spaces, the office aesthetic is clean and minimal but full of creative work pockets, like an on-site library that has the vibe of a relaxing coffee shop. But this office isn’t all about looks: Employees get unlimited middle-shelf booze from its self-serve bar, the Thirsty Flamingo. A juice and gelato bar even includes tiny umbrellas for the full photo-worthy effect.