Probably the most common symbol of the wacky workplace is the Razor scooter, or a skateboard, or some other child's toy that employees supposedly use to travel everywhere on campus.
Here's Pixar boss John Lasseter showing off the fun they have scooting around on scooters at Pixar:
Here's Mashable boss Pete Cashmore showing off the fun they have scooting around on scooters at Mashable:
Here's some dudes at PopCap Games showing off the fun they have scooting around on scooters at PopCap:
Here's some guy at Facebook showing off the fun they have skatboarding around on skateboards at Facebook:
And here's some parked scooters at Google New York that no one could be bothered to demonstrate for the tour:
At this point, it's been copied so much that you'll probably have to have your CEO putting around on a Big Wheel to get any attention.
Less dignity = more industry cred.
#3. Red Walls
Another thing that everybody does to stand out from each other that makes them all look alike is the red accent wall. Beige and white walls symbolize a dull, conventional office environment. Why not show how different you are by painting one wall bright red? Who else is going to do that? Other than Blend ...
... Autodesk ...
... Etsy ...
... YouTube ...
... TechStars ...
... Valve ...
... and many more, but you probably don't want to sit here looking at red walls all day. If you do, I have good news for you, the tech sector is hiring.
#2. Orange Couches
Red accent walls have nothing on orange couches though. I know it's easy to look at an orange couch and go, "What if we had THIS in the office? Everybody has office couches but nobody has ORANGE ones, since it's such a bright and unconventional color!" Apparently about 100 tech company decorators went to their various IKEAs at the same time and had the exact same thought.
That's why cutting edge workplaces like Google London ...
... Twitter ...
... PopCap ...
... Skype London ...
... Digg ...
... Mozilla ...
... Groupon ...
... Google Stockholm ...
... and a ton of other companies all look suspiciously similar.
By this point, the frustrated office designer is tearing their hair out, seeing as every idea for making the office different is being used by every other office that wants be different. "But wait!" they go. "I've got it! What if, instead of using the stairs, you took a SLIDE from the second floor to the first floor! That's NUTS!" Sure, no one else would think of that. Just every Silicon Valley firm in the '90s. And every Google office today:
New York Post
Google New York.
Google San Francisco - hey! Orange couch.
And Red Bull.
And Epic Games.
And some office complex in England.
This isn't even a company. This is just an office building that some developer built and is going to rent out to a bunch of businesses, with the deal sweetener of, "Also, it has a slide." That's how ho-hum slides are now. You use them to sell office space to people.
Now a lot of these workplaces are a big step up from working at your average standard-cubicle distribution office or investment firm, sure. But the way they gush about these traits like they're reinventing the workplace or something is ridiculous considering how many other companies are doing the exact same things, in the exact same colors even. As far as who's really setting the bar for a "different" workplace, take a look at Inventionland:
Love it or hate it, you got to admit they don't half-ass it when trying to make a "different" kind of office. They're not just painting a wall red or bringing in a foosball table, they're planting their employees in the middle of goddamned Disneyland. I don't know if that helps them work or not but it sure as hell is commitment to being different.
When your average Nerf-gunning PR person brags to the media about how they're doing wacky, creative things with offices that nobody's done before, they should look at this place and hang their heads in shame. And then take down those stupid internet meme posters.
For more from Christina, check out 5 Reasons Why Anticonformity Is Worse Than Conformity and 6 Things Movies Love to Get Wrong About The Workplace.