Most of us are back at work, and while some of us work from within the tall gray walls of a cubicle in a drab office park, and no natural light in sight, some of us enjoy the perks of working in a beautiful office. Many companies in the Sacramento region are shifting away from the drudgery of the traditional office layout for more open spaces with lots of light.
So let’s take a look at a few contenders for the coolest work space in Sacramento.
These three companies all co-exist within two stories of the historic Ebner Hotel. Ground (Ctrl) co-founder, Greg Patterson, said that after outgrowing several locations, they were looking for a “grown-up space.” No more loose posters on the wall or Ikea desks.
“We wanted everything to feel intentional,” Patterson said, “The space has to support the workflow of three companies.”
The three companies are differentiated using colored lines and dots on the walls around the office – BKWLD is teal, Ground (Ctrl) is orange and The Artery Foundation is blue. There are corresponding colored stripes indicating which part of the building you’re in as you walk through the various hallways and open workspaces.
The space boasts many varied conference rooms for different purposes, from a small lounge-type setting to a larger, more conventional room. Shared conference rooms are managed by using mounted iPads and a custom scheduling application.
BKWLD’s style is represented through wood accents on the walls and cardboard busts of deer. Since Ground (Ctrl) provides services for concerts, their walls are covered with gig posters and music paraphernalia.
“People feel we provide a space to be proud of,” Patterson said.
Employees enjoy a free keg and a Starbucks espresso machine in a large hangout room. Patterson said they built the company to be attractive to families, and don’t track employees’ time to allow for the flexibility needed when raising children. As long as the work gets done, they don’t ask questions.
What they do: advertising agency
Location: the corner of 21st and L streets
Previously: a bank
Style: playful professional
Gordon Fowler, 3Fold president and CEO, wanted to design a space where people wanted to work as a team. A large blinking traffic light greets people near the entrance, alongside a space for vertical bike parking. The space used to be a bank, and the old vault was transformed into the kitchen.
The upstairs is almost entirely collaborative working space. A lounge area with couches around a coffee table facilitates casual brainstorming, while the patio tiki bar encourages social gatherings and team-building exercises.
"How we work determines the work we produce,” Fowler said. “We intentionally designed this office to foster collaboration and camaraderie and as a result, our team is not only happy and productive but inspiringly creative."
Company: Glass Agency
What they do: advertising Aaency
Location: above Red Rabbit on J Street
Previously: a less cool office
Style: mod luxury
As a business that depends on the free flow of brilliant ideas, the Glass Agency offices always had a lack of office doors.
"It was always designed to be about open communication," said Brantley Payne, creative director. "It feeds into hallway conversations – integration between departments and always working together without setting up a formal meeting."
They wanted to evoke a sense of creativity for anyone visiting for the first time.
"Without even thinking about it people will say, ‘cool space,’" Payne said.
The designers work around the walls of a large open space, with a couple of white leather couches in the middle. Brantley said this is where designers discuss problems and explore solutions. It’s also where the popcorn machine and beer fridge live. It’s where people gather for office happy hour and other social functions.
"You want to be at a place people want to work," Payne said. "When you have that element of fun and enjoyment, you kinda brag that you get to work here and you value your job – and you work harder. It’s something we’ve honed and seen a result in. We invest in that philosophy and it pays back."
Company: Sacramento News & Review
What they do: alternative newspaper
Location: Del Paso
Style: sustainably chic
Perks: low carbon footprint, Chocolate Fish gourmet coffee, regular chair massages
For many people, working in a space that reflects their values is important. If your values include taking care of the planet, the Sacramento News & Review offices on Del Paso Boulevard would be an appropriate work environment. From the blue jean-insulated open ceiling to the dual flush toilets, this space was designed with the earth in mind. Twenty-two skylights, 13 solar domes and dozens of beautiful exotic plants help bring the outside in.
SNR operations manager Will Niespodzinski said the space is designed to provide balance to workers’ lives. There are numerous quiet spaces where people can relax and regroup from the stress of the newsroom. They bring in Mellow Me Out Day Spa twice per week to do chair massages, and employees can blow off steam around the pingpong table.
The company’s mission, second to putting out a great newspaper, is “to create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare.” This mentality toward the workplace shows in the office space.
Company: Otto Construction
What they do: construction
Location: Downtown, the corner of 2nd and Q streets
Previously: a warehouse
Style: rustic Americana
With its industrial wood and metal paneling and bright-red window frames, this building is distinctive from the outside. Company founder John F. Otto bought a warehouse in 1978 and demolished the building in order to build offices for his construction company. During the construction process he used as much of the old warehouse as possible, reclaiming much of the wooden beams, corrugated steel and concrete pedestals. The walls and ceiling of the space are nearly 80 percent salvaged materials, creating a rustic, industrial style.
Vintage tools and paintings of construction workers adorn the walls, and the red accent from the window frames carries through the whole space, lending a splash of color to the various rooms.
“The layout of our office space encourages collaboration, open communication and teamwork. These traits make working at Otto Construction an enjoyable experience,” said John W. Otto, the marketing manager and grandson of the company founder.
Company: Girl Scouts Heart of Central California
What they do: help girls build leadership skills; there’s also a shop
Location: Elvas Avenue, in front of the train tracks
Previously: a Tower Records warehouse, an industrial ice cream machine factory
Style: modern industrial
A large brick building in an industrial part of town seems an odd place for the offices of the Girl Scouts. They moved to this building about three years ago after outgrowing their previous space.
Visitors and workers are greeted by a bright colorful wall with big sketch-style drawings of birds, badges and a saluting scout in the lobby. The tall ceilings house large pieces of machinery hanging from giant metal bars, leftovers from the days the space was used to make ice cream machines.
“It was important for us to keep some of the industrial elements,” said Julie O’Donnell, director of marketing and communications.
Surrounding the large center room are many smaller conference rooms, as well as craft rooms. O’Donnell said that many of the managers have attributed a spike in productivity to the collaborative work environment.
A unique aspect of the Girl Scouts office is the wall of history, a hallway lined with artifacts from each decade of the organization’s past 100 years. Antique cameras, vintage bathing suits and cookie-box designs from days gone by are displayed in glass cases for parents, the scouts and employees to enjoy.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of cool office spaces in the city. We chose these spaces because they seemed unique and different – they offer their employees more than gray cubes, bad coffee and fluorescent lights. We thought it would be fun to take our readers behind the scenes at some of the coolest office spaces in our city, and show off what some fab companies are doing to keep their employees motivated and inspired.
Does your workspace have a unique look and feel? What about an interesting perk? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below, or better yet post a picture of your space on our Facebook page.