Imagine walking into work and feeling like you’re spending the day at your favorite coffeehouse, or, better yet, a friend’s welcoming home you never want to leave. Doing away with the drudgery of the typical cubicle farm might be the single most motivating move a company can make to inspire its staff. 

A Chicago-based real estate branding agency did just that when it moved operations from its downtown office to a residential neighborhood where they could enact their plan of living above the office space (no commute makes for a much happier work day). The transition also offered the opportunity for the company to redefine its headquarters to reflect the live/work balance it believes in — aesthetically, yes, but also emotionally. 

Beyond the company entrance that evokes the energy and ambiance of a favorite coffee shop, the Inspired Interiors team designed a floor plan that encourages flexibility and maximum movement, meeting a variety of situations and purposes that arise during a workday. Think:  dedicated workstations for focused assignments, a working library for research, a private conference room and soundproof booths for crucial one-on-one conversations. 

Adding to the friendly feel are a roomy kitchen anchored by a comfy banquette for family-style meals and a basement-level “playground” with seating vignettes (complete with bean bag chairs), a pinball machine and a ping-pong table to get the creative juices flowing. 

The winning “think outside the box” moment came when the Inspired Interiors designers considered how to best utilize the building’s existing garage space. The team maxed out the structure’s square footage (and extended the owners’ funds) by converting this open area — with its high ceilings and spaciousness — to house the firm’s work stations. 

Presented with the benefits of outfitting an entire new office space, it was paramount to the progressive owners of this successful company to rework their entire surroundings to inspire their employees. By providing a place they would feel excited to enter every day, their hope is that their workers feel valued, well looked after and that their employers truly care about their wellbeing.