There are many things that tech companies are leading the charge on (from pioneering leave policies, tackling traditional communication models to simply ensuring that their product is top-notch), but if there’s one envy-inducing section of their inventive way of working, it’s the inclusion of a very, very cool office space.
Stepping into the new Martin Place office of the first Australian outpost of file hosting company Dropbox is one such space: sure there are bottomless supplies of Tim Tams and tempting Playstation controllers dotted around the office, but the infused creativity and innovative spirit of the space is in so much more than the inclusion of the time-honoured ping pong table. (Which the office has, by the way – customised by iconic Bondi-based photographer Eugene Tan of Aquabumps, no less).
Designed in homage to the Australian home by architecture, design, planning and consulting firm Gensler, the office cleverly mimics the layout of the average (albeit amazing) local abode.
“They wanted a space that was uniquely ‘Sydney’ but it still reflected the firm’s global values and DNA at the heart of it all,” Simon Trude of the Gensler team tells Collective Hub. “So we created them a space that would feel like a home for the Dropbox Sydney family. The vision was to create not just an office to work in every day, not just a ‘house’ for staff, but a place for shared experience, for making memories [and] for storytelling.”
From the reception, you step through into what could easily pass for a lived-in lounge room, with a tetris-like orange couch offering a comfortable breakout space. With views of the city skyline wrapping the space perfectly like a living wallpaper, the office then extends into a café space with Sriracha sauce bottles on every tabletop, punctuated by a stunningly simple concrete bar, where Whiskey Fridays are apparently a monthly norm.
Simon believes the bar is the office’s highlight (we agree) and not just for what it is, but also what is stands for.
“We believe strongly that food and beverage can play a huge role in building a sense of community in the workplace, and we look for unique ways to make food and beverages central to the design of a lot of our workplace projects these days. In the case of Dropbox, the whole lounge/bar area is really the heart of the space, just like a kitchen is the heart of the home.”
And forget the in-house barista (who does a mean piccolo, by the way): there’s no way you can focus on that when the impressive ‘patio’ area looms large in the corner, another extension of the abundant social space. It almost acts as the backyard of the Aussie home.
Here, however, the lack of barbeque goes unnoticed, considering the space seems to jut out over the bustling city below. Sunsets, Deeps de Silva, the Head of Marketing for Dropbox Asia Pacific and Japan tells us, are always fabulous from this corner.
Now with a team hovering around 50 (there are a few ‘family photos’ perched on a nearby bookshelf showing the team growth), the space feels appropriately relaxed and lived in but very far from tired.
There’s a custom Aquabumps printed wall, as well as a bespoke table tennis creation (a tech office must-have) to infuse the local flair a little more into the space.
With offshoot rooms set for both meetings and private use named for office specific monikers (the “#tooeasy” room is one set for conferences, while the “Ziggy Stardust” room is perfect when you need a quiet space to drill through a client conversation).
There’s also a boardroom which means serious business, with an inner atrium punctuated with lush plants.
Moving through the space, it’s easy to call it a success. But how does a designer know they’ve hit the nail on the head?
“When the client tells us after moving in that their new space has been instrumental in transforming their culture and the way they work, we know we’ve done our job. Our clients often find that ROI is measured in terms of social capital, not necessarily the immediate impact on the bottom line.”
If this place is measured on social capital, returns are set to go through the roof.
On our way out, we happen to tag team with the trolley of freshly made salads that’s provided for the team on a daily basis as it makes its way to the kitchen. I know what you’re thinking, as we thought the same: are they hiring?