An employee riding a unicycle between desks; others holding meetings on swing seats: staff at a software company in Liverpool share a funky circus-themed workspace.
We wanted to try and help inspire or create some fun, and also help people to understand that you have to innovate sometimes
Ever thought of giving a presentation from a ball-pool? Well, there you can. It’s like an office straight out of a kid’s dream.
It even has a pop corn machine.
The chief executive – and self-styled “ringmaster” – of Angel Solutions — is Andy Kent. He says the unusual design cost the company close to 50,000 euros, but was well worth it.
“The circus design was implemented about three or four years ago. It was actually in line with the budget cuts that were taking place in the sector. So, of course morale across the whole sector was quite low,” he explained.
“We wanted to try and help inspire or create some fun and also help people to understand that you have to innovate sometimes, to do something differently, especially in the light of the cuts that were taking place.”
Jazzing up office life
Angel Solutions says its circus design is not just a gimmick. It’s actually quite functional, with a lot of different meeting spaces, said John Winstanley, in charge of innovation and research. “I’d also say that just having fun things around the office is quite nice.”
It sure can make other offices look depressing. The noise, overcrowding, office politics: recent studies suggest working from home brings fewer distractions.
To keep staff coming in, companies need to do more than just give them desks and computers, says Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Manchester Business School.
“People now, because they’re working under more intense pressure and their jobs are insecure and the like, they need a kind of safe haven, an environment that relaxes them, unwinds them a bit, enables social interaction,” he explained.
“Think about it, most of the jobs in many countries, in Europe for example, are knowledge, service-based jobs. We could actually do most of our jobs from home… If that’s the case, why are we coming in? We’re coming to be with other people.”
Guess what: the circus design didn’t only boost staff morale, but also productivity.