Back in the original Bill Gates era, those in the technology industry were known for their ability and willingness to work anywhere, and were proud of vast technological leaps accomplished in garage-made offices. Now, big tech companies are expected to offer a plethora of perks such as free food, ping-pong tables, and wifi-enabled wildflower meadows.
“I like to start my day with a kimchi rice bowl, or maybe some sushi, we have an in-house pastry chef whose cakes are to die for and eight flavors of homemade ice cream," says an anonymous LinkedIn employee who circles an enormous buffet table with Oliver Wainwright, architecture critic for The Guardian.
Representatives of companies like Facebook and Samsung, who have each invested millions of dollars into their Calif. headquarters, claim that this transformation into a "holiday camp workplace culture" is for the well-being of their employees. As much as massage chairs and Tai-Chi relieve stress, beneath the health benefits lies a more competitively charged reason for the money spent: these over-the-top workspaces lure in the best minds.
The firm behind some of these resort-style office spaces is architecture firm NBBJ—known for designing Samsung's Silicon Valley headquarters, and Amazon's "futuristic jungle-filled biospheres" in Seattle.
"It's all about mobility. If you sit down for more than 20 minutes you get dumber," says Scott Wyatt, FAIA, partner at NBBJ. More softly put, Jim Elliott, Samsung's vice-president of memory marketing says, "The building is about bringing people together and encouraging chance encounters."
The investment in entertainment facilities acts as a way to bring the comfort of home to the office. Considering many of their employees don't have personal chefs and putting greens in their homes, these tech companies design a playground workspace that people will never want to leave.
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