As you look at the skyscrapers and glass office blocks crowding the Manchester skyline, it’s easy to assume that the offices inside are more of the same we are all used to. Boring corridors, austere desks and dull meeting rooms? Not so. More and more companies are realising that a creative environment makes employees more productive, happier and more creative. Manchester’s mixture of older listed buildings and contemporary architecture allows for some serious variety when it comes to design.
Here are the most creative offices in Manchester.
Sedulo – Deansgate, Manchester
An accountancy firm might sound like the last place you would find a creatively designed office, yet this is one of the most unique in Manchester. To reflect their diverse clientele (ranging from early-stage startups to established companies) each part of the office is different. There are themed rooms, including the Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney suites. Each has relevant decor and memorabilia. A roof garden with deck chairs and palm trees allows employees to soak up sunny moments.
AutoTrader – First Street, Manchester
As the UK’s largest automotive online marketplace, it’s no surprise that this office is full of cars. Staff can have meetings in a VW campervan or a rare Citroen H van. These are not just a gimmick- in the words of Ann Clarke, joint managing director of the company who led the design project, ‘they provide spaces that spark the imagination and encourage cross-pollination of ideas.’
Auto Trader’s commitment to digital innovation is evident from the technology in the office. This includes touch-screen media walls, iPad room controls and digital signage. These combine to support the ethos of the company. Auto Trader understands that creative offices are about more than desks and chairs. Younger generations expect an environment where ideas and inspiration can flow freely. Employees have all the flexibility that requires. In the office, they can literally write on the walls, have meetings in diverse spaces and relax when necessary.
Melbourne – Lovell House, Manchester
To reflect their focus on giving staff control, Melbourne Server Hosting allowed them to help design the Manchester office. Despite being located in an industrial unit, the office has a distinctly homely feel, with casual seating areas, a library, art deco dining room and quiet spaces. Glass partitions between rooms create a sense of an integrated community and there is even a grassed picnic area for lunches or informal meetings. The office is full of plants, which studies have shown improve the happiness and well-being of city dwellers. Beanbag pods and the glass partitions make efficient use of the space, providing privacy when needed.
In the words of Keighron-Foster, the design project leader, ‘for us, creativity and productivity go hand in hand. If people are inspired by their working environments they are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.’ The office is already a hit with staff, but the Manchester company continues to take their input on future improvements.
Bright HR – The Peninsula Building, Manchester
It’s no surprise that employees describe this office as both fun and productive. Bright HR, a people management software company, has fitted their office with a Jack and the Beanstalk area (complete with a beanstalk, of course), football nets and a garden with beanbags. Nerf gun wars are a regular occurrence. After all, they specialise in managing people so it’s crucial to start by keeping their own employees happy.
Code Computerlove – Dale Street, Manchester
This Manchester office has the look and feels of an artisanal coffee shop, with wooden flooring, brightly coloured seating and low hanging lights. There is a workshop equipped with tools for tinkering allowing staff to use their hands as well as their brains. The natural features of the space are well utilised, with coloured inset walls, lighting which works within the constraints of the beams and smart partitions.
Code Computerlove has a healthy dose of competition with the neighbouring digital agencies, challenging them to window post-it note art wars.
Social Chain – Portland Street, Manchester
It only takes one look at Social Chain’s website – bedecked with videos of staff being covered with glitter, paint and cream pies – to tell that this Manchester-based office is seriously creative. The office’s most popular feature is a slide with a ball pool. A wooden ceiling gives the office a light, airy feel along with other original features such as exposed brick and metal supports. Combined with ping pong tables and an adorable office dog, the office is offbeat and memorable.
CEO Bartlett’s mantra is ‘you have to constantly disrupt yourself to succeed.’ In the early days of Social Chain, the founders had no proper base and even slept on clients’ sofas. As a result, setting up a fitting home for the company was a priority and they have achieved just that in Manchester. The creativity generated by the space is evident from the scope and breadth of their work with major brands and influencers.
RentalCars.com – Fountain Street, Manchester
Considered by some to be the UK’s best office, the home of this Manchester-based firm was transformed into creative heaven after a £2.7 million redesign. This 38,000 square foot office encompasses a rooftop beach, an indoor park with hedges and gates, and themed meeting rooms. Free breakfasts and an all-day salad bar look after the health of employees, whilst an in house Starbucks keeps everyone sufficiently caffeinated. The kitchenette is designed to look like a 1950s diner. Burn out is rife in many offices, so staff have a cinema and games room to ensure they stay relaxed.
The Manchester company’s 1000 employees handle more than 5 million car rentals a year and the CEO wanted an office able to accommodate their diverse needs, whilst encouraging future growth. The RentalCars.com office is an example of a creative office which combines the right people and tools with the right environment. It is about more than looking pretty – the Manchester office is functional and inspiring.