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Community Blog / Elements of a Startup Office Vol. I

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The startup is a unique chance to define an office space: which is thoroughly an expression of your company. Sometimes after a startup has grown, and perhaps exploded onto the scene it either takes those unique elements and makes them more obscure, or goes totally bland.

There is a reason Google seems to be the coolest place to work. Nap pods, bean bags, trainsets that go throughout the building, and cafeterias that serve only the best are evidence of a hip workspace. It is a ruse. Many academics would argue that the more comfortable a worker is, particularly in the workplace, more work can be done. The separation of home, leisure, and work time is blended. This makes those who work at Google work more. Philosophers like Guattari, Deluxe or Gramsci would call this: manipulated exploitation. It would seem that all workspaces can be interpreted as prisons, except that Google, Facebook and other hip companies just have the best accommodations.

Considering the nature of startups these days there are some staple elements of startup offices in 2014. They have been brewing into stereotypes and the take on a unique space is less unique than it may seem.

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The Brickwall

There is something initially cool about brickwalls. For one thing, they’re usually on the outside, so seeing them on the inside is kind of refreshing at first. The brickwall also contributes to a perception that the office is slightly bigger. This is not the case. Generally dry walls stand about a half to a full inch away from the wall. Without this separation, the difference is noticeable.

A sense of anti-establishment that furthers the notion that “this startup is different,” bleeds through the walls. It is all about being different, and huge corporate buildings often look the same. The brickwall is a departure from the corporate world, but not from the startup world.

There is a serious issue with the brickwall that often plagues a resident of the office: the echo. Most often the brickwall is complemented with wood floors, because carpet with brick does not achieve an aesthetic balance. This echo can slowly eat away at a person's sanity, or entertain a person's ego by amplifying a voice.


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(The climax of the echo)

The use of the brickwall serves also as a cost saving mechanism. It is cheaper not to install the drywall, then primer, then paint, then another coat… It is a symbol in a sense that a startup comes from humble means and the brick is a testament to the fact that in the beginning money is usually tight.

Startups though, continue to embrace the brick: Imgur, an online image hosting website, posts office life all the time on their site and the brickwall is everywhere:


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Or Google Russia:


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Or Google Pittsburgh:


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The Mabbly Offices are also lined with brick:


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What’s the lesson here? If you’re going to visit a startup, be on the lookout for the brickwall. It may say more about the company than it appears.

 

 


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