This Is Not Your Typical Office Space
With features like a functioning British pub, this office gives employees a creative environment in which to do their creative work
Twenty-one days without a break, covered in cuts and bruises—this isn’t what you’d expect a job at a software startup to look like. Nor would you expect your CEO to be assembling furniture late into the night to meet the deadline to move half the organization into its new office. But this isn’t your typical software startup.
Throughout my career, I’ve visited hundreds of offices in New York, London, Berlin, and elsewhere. Clients, prospects, partners. Whether I was at a Fortune 500 company or a scrappy tech startup, a creative agency or a real estate giant, I was routinely surprised that their offices were strikingly inconsistent with their brand. These were businesses and creatives at the forefront of innovation, surrounded by stark fluorescent lighting, beige carpet tiles, and over-dampened acoustics. The spaces were boring, sterile, and deeply uninspiring. How could cool, innovative brands work in offices like this? And what did it say about their commitment to creativity? If they couldn’t provide a good environment for themselves and their colleagues, how could they deliver a positive experience for their customers?
Outside of the office, we place so much value on experience. The restaurants we dine in, the hotels we stay at, and even the stores we shop in. These environments are designed and crafted in hopes of offering up a positive experience to the customer. The choices we make about one business or product over another are based on both logic and feeling, with a positive brand experience often leading to brand loyalty. Would anyone enjoy staying in a hotel that was poorly designed or eating in a restaurant that left them uninspired? So why is it that some businesses place so little value in the environments they create for their employees and clients?
At Ceros, we build and sell software that transforms how businesses create digital content and, hopefully, how they think creatively. This often involves helping prospects and clients imagine and execute better digital experiences using our ecosystem of technology, inspiration, and empowerment. For us, this ecosystem extends to our physical space, which is why we design and build our own offices. Ceros is all about inspiring creativity and creating better experiences, both digitally and materially. We live and breathe it through our product, our culture, and our people. Ultimately, why wouldn’t that extend to our office space?
When tasked with building out the Ceros office in New York—from ideation to execution—I knew the space would have to be consistent with our business mission. We had to create a place that would inspire our employees, clients, and prospects by helping them understand what good design looks like and what a good experience feels like. And for me, it was a chance to take out years of frustration with bad design and turn it into something positive: an office that is both highly functional and full of surprises, with a level of attention to detail that one might find in a favorite hotel or restaurant. It’s an office that sends visitors away with a story to tell.
Why is it that some businesses place so little value in the environment they create for their employees and clients?
Of course, building out an office space comes with several challenges — time, budget, and coordination—all while juggling a normal day job (we are a software company, after all). To execute this, we used a combination of CAD, project management software, and mood boards. We sourced most of our furniture from antique and thrift stores. Not knowing what kind of stuff we’d find or how we’d make it function in our office space was a source of endless inspiration and satisfaction. From handcrafted wallpaper to color-blocked conference rooms to custom graffiti work, each space offers up a unique experience.
Our office now occupies 22,000 square feet over two floors in the heart of the Flatiron District in New York. Both floors feature an open concept design with more than 15 custom conference rooms themed around our culture and creativity. There’s a secret room built behind a bookcase that opens up by pulling a book on the shelf, revealing a curated space that we use as our lounge for shooting video content. We have a fully functional British pub, with beer on tap served up by a commercial-grade keg room that would make any bar owner proud.
In our new space, I am most proud of our neon wall, made up of 14 gas-powered, glowing lights that were hand-wired to create what ultimately feels like an art installation. I believe lighting is an integral part of creating the perfect mood and tone—something that is often an afterthought in interior design. This space also seems to resonate with clients and employees the most (if we’re counting Instagram posts). Everything is brand awareness, after all.
We also built a classic, New-York-style bodega, complete with a working ATM covered in graffiti. The only thing it’s missing is a bodega cat. This space was created to be our first Ceros store, where clients and prospects can enjoy Ceros merchandise and experience something unique, fun, and surprising. Our office also features several break-out areas, with walls our employees can actually draw on when inspiration strikes.
Ultimately, one might ask why a software company should care about creativity and creative space. We believe our office space is the physical manifestation of our brand, our culture, and our company. We don’t just occupy these offices; we experience them. By creating this immersive, engaging office space, we want our employees, clients, and prospects to experience creativity in its most physical, tangible, material sense: the spaces they inhabit and the rooms in which they live, work, and play.