Other businesses have jumped on the work and play bandwagon. London ad agency Wieden+Kennedy offers stressed creatives a padded cell to relax in (hopefully it comes with a key). Its green cushioned walls, built in TV, games consoles and cuddly toys encourage a less pressured approach to work. Ticketmaster offers its employees a joy ride on a massive steel slide from the top floor to the basement, where they’ll find pinball machines, pool tables and an in-house bar.
It can feel as if HR departments are vying with each other to win the award for the wackiest working environment. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome change from the corporate grey suits and grim partitioned office environments of recent memory. And if it’s hard to imagine a firm of corporate accountants descending the building on a slide or jumping around in a ball pool, maybe extra flexibility of working hours or the freedom to work from home would be a more successful inducement.
That’s the interesting thing about these new working environments; they offer businesses the scope to tailor an environment that appeals to your target employees. If your business targets young mums, then make your own working environment a parent-friendly one. If you sell outdoor gear, then take a leaf out of retailer REI’s book and give your people Thanksgiving Day off so they can (literally) go take a hike.
People used to measure their career progress by the size of their pay check; maybe we’re moving towards a world where a great career is one that lets you take a year out to cycle around the world. The bottom line is that the way companies treat their people is the way their people treat the consumer. Because whatever your brand ethos is, whatever its strapline or consumer promise, however brilliant its design, somewhere along the line a human being has to deliver it.