Archive for March, 2011

Office Plan Layout Software: 3 Great Options

Planning a new office, or remodeling the one you have? You probably already know you need more than Microsoft Word to help you do the layout. Mapping cubicles to available space is complicated enough. Add in planning for conference rooms, bathrooms, utility panels, and so on, and you’re looking at a project that has potential to make compiling the annual report look like a breeze.

Fortunately, we live in the future, and everything can be done with the help of software. Here are three options worth looking at when planning your office layout.

Microsoft Visio Standard 2010

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Cost: $186.83 – $249.99 for Standard; up to $600 for the Premium Edition

Operating System: Windows 7/XP/Vista

Pros: Part of the Microsoft Office series of products (although thus far not included with the Office Suite) Visio works well with Microsoft Excel, Access, PowerPoint, etc. So if you’re already running working at a Microsoft shop, you’ll probably be able to move pretty easily from one application to another. Also available in Professional and Premium editions.

Cons: The cost. Also even the Standard edition might just be more design power than you need for a basic office layout product.

Word Around the Web: Four stars (average for all versions) on CNET, four stars on Amazon.

The most insightful Amazon review comes to us from one Dr. Terrence McGarty, who praises the improved graphics and compatibility with Microsoft office, but dings the product for some PowerPoint wonkiness and problems with Bluetooth add-ins.

Also, he says: “As with most Microsoft products, you must find the solutions to problems via Google.”

SmartDraw
smartdrawimage

Cost: Free to try, $99.98 – $219.99 to buy, depending on version and whether it’s new or used.

Operating System: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7

Pros: SmartDraw offers a variety of templates and a clip art collection including standard symbols for lighting fixtures, plumbing, HVAC, etc. Floor plans can be saved as JPEG, PDF, HTML, and AutoCAD Interchange. The product works as a standard drawing tool as well, and for other, less corporate purposes. (It includes a family tree template, for example, that might be cool for messing around after work hours are over.)

Cons: Some commenters on CNET and Amazon mentioned that is was confusing to use, and others mentioned customer service issues.

Word Around the Web: Five stars on CNET; four stars on Amazon. Also, 700 likes on Facebook.

Bryan K. Bailey wins our vote for best Amazon comment for SmartDraw. In response to users who found the product difficult to figure out, he writes: “… every release I spend a couple of dedicated hours exploring the interface and learning the new features. Just because you didn’t take the time to learn to use a program doesn’t make it bad software! Try it on a trial, and if you like it, buy it, and learn it.”

Gliffy

gliffyimageCost: Free

Operating System: Web-based

Pros: You can’t beat the cost. Fine for newbies, or for spit-balling ideas.

Cons: Not for advanced users, and not nearly as professional looking as the other products we looked at. Frankly, this may be a case of “you get what you pay for.” We doubt it’d hold up for folks who are deep in the planning stages of doing a real office layout.

Word Around the Web: No reviews on Amazon or CNET. The consensus on blogs seems to be that it’s a very basic tool. Dimaks of Ctrl + Alt + Delete says: “Finally, Gliffy [seemed] much more basic to me because of its very layman orientation in terms of graphic presentation and functionality. …Gliffy does not offer diagram dimensioning, which is a very basic component of every floor plan design.”

Inside the Office of “The Office”

The US version of NBC’s sitcom The Office has been on the air for six years now, and in that time, a lot of things have changed at Dunder Mifflin. Jim and Pam got married, the Scranton branch escaped redundancy only to be bought by Sabre, and Dwight is … well, still Dwight. (Although he does own the building now, so there’s proof that everything changes, even things that seem to stay the same.)

Of course, just like in your actual office, when people come and go and new names appear on the front of the building, the floor plan of the actual office changes. Fortunately, there are plenty of obsessive Office fans out there on the interwebs, documenting each and every change to the Dunder Mifflin cubicle seating chart.

Season One: The Office Floor Plan, Classic Edition

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Pam sits at reception, Jim and Dwight sit next to each other, and Michael’s desk is in his office, even if he prefers to be out on the floor distracting everyone from doing work. Note the presence of Devin, a.k.a. “that guy Michael fired in season two.”

Season Two: Temporary Moves

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Season two is arguably when the US version hit its stride. This is the season when Jim temporarily relocated Dwight’s desk to the men’s room, and found his own seat relocated to the Annex when someone left Michael a little present on his carpet. Also worth noting on this map: Vance refrigeration, over by the elevators. We’re surprised that Bob Vance didn’t find a way to slap his branding all over that section of the chart.

Season Three: Post Stamford Merger

karenoffice

In the third season, Jim moved to the Stamford branch and started dating Karen, who then moved with Jim (and most of the Stamford branch) back to Scranton when the Stamford branch closed. Confused yet? Not as confused as you would have been, had Michael not driven most of the former Stamford-ites crazy on their first day, causing them to quit.

Season Four: Post-Post Stamford Merger

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This is the most up-to-date seating chart we could find, and it’s still pretty current. By this time, Karen has gone off to greener pastures (or to Utica, anyway). Jim and Pam are together, and Andy has moved closer to Big Tuna. As always, the Creed stands alone. And a good thing it is, too. Don’t forget that he sprouts mung beans in his desk: “Very nutritious, but they smell like death.”

Bonus Round: The Sims Hit “The Office”

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We found some weird, weird stuff while we were looking for these charts. (Let’s just say, a lot of people have even more time on their hands than we do.) The greatest of them all, though, might be The Sims environment mockup of the Dunder Mifflin office.

And as a bonus on top of a bonus, here’s Michael’s office the way The Sims would do it:

sims2

You’re welcome.

Images: Season 1: http://mikesova.tumblr.com, Season 2: http://boards.nbc.com/nbc/index.php?showtopic=730018, Season 3: http://www.tv.com/users/JP_Reginaldo/profile.php?tag=main;, Season 4: http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2010/06/08/the-exact-floorplan-of-dunder-mifflin/, Bonus: Sims http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=279871

Office Furniture Showdown: Staples vs. Arnolds!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Office supply superstore Staples vs. preowned furniture leader Arnolds Office Furniture.

Which store has the best furniture at the best prices? Where will you go to outfit your home office with the best leather desk chairs, executive desks, and file cabinets? And will one furniture giant breathe fire and jump a row of el Caminos?  Two monster furniture mavens will enter the ring, and only one will leave. It’s the office furniture superstore showdown of the century! BE THERE!

1. Leather Executive Chairs

For their first foray into combat, Screamin’ Demon Staples will face off against American Guardian Arnolds Office Furniture in the arena of leather executive chairs.

Staples Tillman Leather Executive Chair: $214.99

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- The Tillman chair is black leather, brand-new and features lumbar support and pneumatic seat height adjustment. Buyer, however, beware:  warranty is via manufacturer and varies. So it you hit it with a blowtorch or crunch it under your wheel, you might be out of luck.

Arnolds Black Leather Executive Chair: $149.00

arnoldsexecchair

- The Arnolds alternative has everything the Staples brand offers – brand-new, black leather, high back and executive styling, for three-quarters of the price. Plus: Comes with a one-year guarantee.

WINNER: Arnolds Office Furniture!

2. Cherry Executive Desks

The main event of any office furniture showdown, the executive desk in cherry or mahogany makes it clear that you mean serious business. Aces High Arnolds Office Furniture shows off against Swamp Thing Staples Office Supply.

Staples Harvard Collection Executive Desk: $399.98

staplesexecdesk

- This executive desk has cherry finish and wood veneers, and has two file drawers and a keyboard tray. Comes ready to assemble.

Arnolds Cherry DP desks: $429

arnoldsexecdesk

- Available in cherry, mahogany or maple, these brand-new closeouts are solid wood for only thirty dollars more than the veneer-and-wood-finish version available at your local office supply store.

WINNER: Arnolds!

3. Vertical File Cabinets

And now for the final freestyle event! Sudden Impact Staples faces off against After Shock Arnolds Office Furniture for the title of Best Vertical File Cabinets.

Staples Vertical File Cabinet: $199.99

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- Staples’s four-drawer, putty colored file cabinet is made from 30% post-consumer materials and comes with factory-installed locks and 2 keys.

Steelcase 5-Drawer Vertical Legal File Cabinets: $139

arnoldsfilecabinet

- Arnold’s five-drawer steelcase legal filing cabinets are heavy duty and built to last. Originally $800, now a bargain for $139.

WINNER: Arnolds!

How to Assemble Modular Office Cubicles

cubicle

The maze of cubicles at your office isn’t nearly as complicated to assemble as it is to walk through. (Seriously, how many times have you wound your way back to the break room for some Snickers action only to forget which delectable candy bar you were craving en route because you had to use all your brainpower to remember how to get to the break room in the first place?)

In fact, building functional workspace for your entire office is probably easier than assembling that bookcase you just bought from Ikea (what the heck is a Linnarp, anyway?).

There are four basic types of wall configurations you’ll assemble to create your workstations: Connecting panels end-to-end to create a wall lengthwise, connecting two panels perpendicularly to create corners, connecting three or more panels together in a T-shape, and connecting four panels in a cross-shape. Master these configurations, and you’ve mastered cubicle construction. Read on.

What You’ll Need*

- Cubicle panels
- Straight panel connectors
- T-shaped connectors
- Corner connectors
- Four-way or star-shaped connectors
- A friend

*Supplies might vary depending on the type of cubicles you purchase.

Steps

1. There are a variety of ways you can set up cubicle walls, so first, create a diagram for how you want to lay out your office. This will act as a map for how you will place your panels. If you need help creating a configuration, plenty of companies offer space planning and design services.

2. Stand two cubicle panels next to each other. The panels should have grooves at the tops and bottoms. Snap a straight panel connector into each of the grooves to join the panels. Continue joining panels to create a wall according to your diagram.

3. Create a corner by standing two panels next to each other at a 90-degree angle (here’s where a friend might be useful). Use a corner connector at the tops and bottoms to secure the two panels.

4. To create a T-shaped partition, place the end of one panel to the side of one wall of panels. Put the T-shaped (or three-way) connectors into the grooves at the tops and bottoms of the panels, snapping them into place.

5. Create a four-way connection by standing the ends of four panels in a cross-shaped. Use your four-way (or star-shaped) connectors to secure the four panels at the tops and the bottom.

6. Use the basic panel constructions in various combinations to create the layout you’re seeking. To create the traditional four-sided cubicle, place a right-angle section against the shorter side of a T-shaped section. Be sure to leave an open space for the cubicle’s entrance.

Source: eHow.com
Photo courtesy of lisabiz on Flickr.com

Where Have All the Cubicles Gone?

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These days it seems that the standard office cubicle is going the way of the dinosaur as companies attempt to modernize.

In 2004 BP turned a 10,000-square-foot office in Houston into a laboratory of sorts for the biggest trend in corporate layout since the dawn of the cubicle: an open-space floor plan.

While this does harken to the frontiering spirit of the American West, nary a buffalo roam in the wide-open spaces of BP’s modern office (well, that we know of).

The company’s WOW (Working Our Way) Project, was started in order to envision the next generation of office space – a move away from the hierarchical structure of formal offices and into a flatter organization that focuses on teamwork and the fluid exchange of ideas.

BP isn’t the only company tearing down (or at least lowering) walls. Tech companies like Google pioneered the movement to more free-flowing offices.

“We are seeing bigger common spaces, more places for collaborations,” John Hamilton, a designer with Grand Rapids, Mich.–based Steelcase, told executivetravelmagazine.com.

Rather than using the traditional conference room to hold meetings, now more informal check-ins can take place in common areas setup throughout the office.

openofficelayout

Beyond the ability for employees to carry on conversations easier, there are more practical reasons for the demise of private offices and the shrinking of cubicles.

For one, as company’s scale back in the wake of lagging economy, they’re leasing smaller offices. Open floor plans are an efficient way to use the space.

Another reason is the proliferation of mobile technology. Large desks are no longer needed to house bulky computers and paper files.

“The presence of reliable wireless infrastructuring, longer battery life and lighter laptop computers, all of those technological advancements contribute to the dynamic of people working anywhere,” Jeff Harrison, brand manager for Haworth Inc. told the Holland Sentinel. “Where you work and when you work is not as important as the work you get done.”

And finally, open offices just look nicer – allowing more natural light to flow through the building and giving employees the impression that they have more space than a closed cubicle allows.

“I think fewer people are expecting offices these days,” planning analyst Jennifer Stanton told Acoustics.com. “It’s nice to have an office that literally encourages an open-door policy.”

Stanton said her biggest complaint about open layouts is that she has trouble concentrating.

She’s not the only one who is a little skeptical about the ability of open offices to promote productivity.

“Google doesn’t seem to think that private offices are valuable for technical staff. They’re wrong,” one former Google employee toldGigaom.com.

While open spaces can promote collaboration, they can also promote a lot of distracting conversation, which (and we’ll sure you’ll find this shocking) isn’t always work related.

Still, the trend doesn’t seem to be going away. Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg adopted the concept, using a bullpen style setup in city hall.

Whatever way you choose to set up your office, Arnolds Office Furniture can meet your office furniture needs. We offer everything from conference tables to more traditional cubicles.

(First photo courtesy of www.hermanmiller.com; second photo courtesy of TurboSquid.com.)

Does the CEO Need a Door?

Brooklyn City Hall
(New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s desk is in the middle of “the bullpen” in City Hall.)

These days with all the news of corporate bonuses, it’s hard for CEOs to avoid the stereotype of an over-privileged megalomaniac who boasts vacation homes in Vail and Maui, a 150-foot yacht, a Rolls and, of course, a cushy corner office.

The stereotype might be unfair for many chief executives, but that doesn’t mean the average American worker doesn’t feel a little bitter about the separation between “us” and “them.”

After all, it hardly seems fair that one little person can get so much square footage when the rest of the office is squeezed into cubicles, nary a private moment to be found.

Some CEOs are bridging that divide by foregoing the posh, wood-paneled executive office altogether. Instead, they’re setting down their briefcases and sipping their coffee with the rest of their employees — in (gasp!) cubicles.

An article in the Nashville Business Journal detailed how Healthways, a disease and care management company, ditched the traditional office layout.

thumb_ben_leedleIn the new floorplan everyone, including CEO Ben Leedle (pictured at right), works out in the open, allowing for greater collaboration.

“We’ve found from research, companies where the CEO is out in the open have almost a 65 percent higher rate of retention and higher rate of people feeling they can be more productive,” Dennis Jackson, Healthways vice president of procurement and real estate, told the Business Journal.

OK, so, “people feeling they can be more productive” is probably just code for “people feeling like their bosses are watching their every move,” but still, the arrangement does give offices a more democratic feel.

And Leedle isn’t the lone CEO in cube land.

meridee_mooreMeridee Moore (pictured at left), the founder of Watershed Asset Management, talked to the New York Times about why she preferred working in one big, open room.

“It was more fun, more energizing, and I realized that you do better work if you get input from people around you,” she said.

At Watershed, everyone has the same size desk. Moore told the Times that there are no office hierarchies and a lot more back and forth between employees.

But what about the times when a CEO needs privacy to discuss sensitive issues with other employees or customers? Well, just like everyone else, they can duck into a conference room.

headquarters(Pictured is the headquarters of ICG Commerce in King of Prussia, Pa., where the company CEO works in a cubicle.)

1903“People often ask me, ‘How do you protect confidential information when everyone can hear you?’” Carl Guarino, CEO of ICG Commerce (pictured at right), told Forbes in a 2010 article. “Companies shouldn’t design for the 2 percent of information they need to keep confidential. They should design for the 98 percent of information flow they want to have happen.”

Joining the masses can be a symbolic “we’re all in this together” gesture. But beyond creating a team-like atmosphere, there are plenty of practical benefits, including giving executives a window into the world of the average employee and giving them the chance to offer immediate feedback on projects.

Other heroic managers who want to be just like the rest of us include:

  • eBay’s Meg Whitman
  • Travelocity’s Michelle Peluso
  • Zappos’ Tony Hsieh
  • Morningstar’s Joe Mansueto
  • New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • We think it’s pretty darn cool that some many CEO’s have kicked their doors to the cube – err – curb.

    (First photo: glassdoor.com; Second photo: http://cache.daylife.com

    The Incredible Shrinking Cubicle

    SmallCube

    If you’re having trouble finding extra room for your prized collection of sports mascot bobbleheads, you’re not alone. Turns out your colleagues might also be having trouble finding homes for their Star Wars action figures, pig figurines and other office knickknacks on their increasingly more crowded desks.

    According to the International Facility Management Association, 1994, the size of a cubicle has shrunk 15 square feet for the average American worker. Your bosses are also feeling the squeeze: workspace for senior office workers has gone from 115 square feet to 95 square feet and for executive management from 289 square feet to 245 square feet.

    While it seems kind of cruel that cubicle sizes are shrinking as the average American is growing, there are perfectly good reasons for the decrease.

    First is the go-to scapegoat for all downsizing lately: The economy. As companies look to decrease costs, they’re also decreasing the amount of space they’re leasing, which is putting the squeeze on you and your co-workers. (To be fair, many of these same companies are getting rid of executive offices, which means that your boss might be joining you out in cubicle world).

    Technology is another reason for shrinkage. Unless your office is circa 1990, chances are your computer is a bit more streamlined. Gone are the days of huge monitors, which also means gone are the days of huge desks. And lets be honest, if you had a choice between a giant monitor (which probably only displays green type on a black background and requires a solid smack every 10 minutes to prevent flickering) and a giant desk that you’d inevitably fill with empty bottles of Diet Coke, or a fancy technicolor flat screen monitor on which you can watch videos of baby elephants or Josh Groban singing Kanye West’s Tweets and a slightly smaller desk, we’re thinking you’d go with the smaller desk.

    “It makes sense. Years ago, our technology took up every square inch of our work station. Now technology is lightweight. Years ago, we were paper-intensive and we needed our work surfaces. But you can get just about any file you need on the laptop,” Angie Earlywine of the architectural firm HOK told the Baltimore Sun in February.

    The portability of technology has also made it easier for employees to work offsite. More people can work from home or the local Starbucks, necessitating fewer workspaces in the office.

    Finally, many businesses want to promote a more collaborative work environment. In order to do this, they’re tearing down walls and seating employees closer together. Sure, this might mean you’ll get to hear your neighbor’s rendition of “Silver Bells” (which, for some inexplicable reason, he sings all year), but you’ll also be able to discuss upcoming projects more freely.

    Another big win for office denizens everywhere with the advent of smaller cubicles and lower walls: Sunlight. We don’t know about you, but much like the office fern, we thrive with a little natural light.

    Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to any cubicle size scenario. Traditional cubicles offer more room and more privacy, but could contribute to a feeling of isolation. Smaller, more open cubicles my open employees up to office din, but it could be a catalyst for new ideas and innovative thinking.

    Luckily, companies like Arnolds Office Furniture have a variety of cubicle sizes to fit your needs.

    Photo courtesy of www.nsftools.com/blog/

    How to Install Used Cubicles

    spaceplan
    When outfitting your new office, it’s not a good idea to just throw a bunch of cubicles and furniture into a room.

    For one, foisting that conference table over your head will probably throw your back out (not to mention ruin the table). But more importantly, you’ll end up with a big mess of dysfunctional space.

    Before installing your used cubicles, it’s a good idea to do a little homework (and yes, this might involve some math). There are several things you should consider when laying out your office, including how much space you are working with and what the space will be used for.

    Here’s what you should think about:

    1. Size of the office.

    Before purchasing any workstations or furniture, make sure to measure how much space you’re working with. Looks can be deceiving when estimating the size of a room, so use a tape measure.

    2. Size of the furniture.
    Measure all of the larger-sized furniture – filing cabinets, conference tables, etc. – to make sure it will fit in the space.

    3. Size of the negative space.
    No, this isn’t some Zen experiment. Once you’ve measured your space and measured your furniture, you need to make sure there is room for employees to move around comfortably in the spaces not occupied by furniture (hence, negative space). Make sure aisles are wide enough for two people to pass by each other (wider if you have a bigger office with more employees), that employees can push out their chairs without bumping into furniture or other people, and that there is enough room to open cabinet drawers and doors.

    4. Location of infrastructure.
    Consider the location of things like electrical outlets, phone jacks and good lighting when determining where to install workstations. The last thing you want is for employees to be tripping over extension cords (or worse, your clients).

    5. Location of social areas.
    Avoid installing cubicles near breakrooms, kitchens, or conference rooms where noise can be a distraction from productivity.

    6. Location of communal office equipment.
    Put printers, copiers and fax machines in areas of the office that are easily accessible to the people who use them the most.

    7. Types of employees.
    Consideration should be given to both the type of workstation an employee needs, and its placement within the office. Typically, managers or supervisors need larger cubicles that offer some privacy and room for others to sit down and talk. Their cubicles should also be more centrally located because, theoretically, more people are seeking their help. Employees who work more collaboratively should have cubicles with lower walls that promote an easy flow of conversation (and ideas), and people with the same types of jobs should be grouped together.

    8. Aesthetics.
    There have been many studies done concerning creating a productive workplace environment. When possible, try to make sure employees get natural light and that they can see outdoors. If this is impossible, hang artwork that depicts outdoor scenes. A layout that is clean and easy to navigate will make a good first impression on clients.

    Which Call Center Cubicle Layout Is Right For You?

    The goal of any call center cubicle layout is to increase productivity while conserving space, with bonus points if the company saves money as well. There are several layouts that accomplish these aims. Which one you choose depends greatly on your company’s goals, resources, and culture.

    There are a few variables you should consider when choosing a call center cubicle layout, including:

    1. Floor plan and surface area: How much room do you have to work with, and what other features must you factor into your design? This would include bathrooms, meeting areas, utility panels, and so on.

    2. Workflow: Cubes in general are getting smaller, but call center work spaces are getting larger, increasing from four-foot desks to as much as six in some centers. Exact numbers aren’t important, of course; the point is to make sure workers have room to maneuver.

    3. Ergonomics: All the space in the world won’t help productivity if your employees are using non-ergonomically correct equipment. Carpal tunnel syndrome increases no one’s profits, and it’s pretty lousy for morale as well.

    With all this in mind, here are three popular call center cubicle layouts, and the pros and cons of each.

    1. The Row

    therow

    This is the Coke Classic of call center cubicle layouts. It’s the traditional layout, and arguably the most popular, and for good reason: It works, it’s relatively cheap to install and maintain, and it doesn’t require a lot of thought during the layout planning process.

    On the downside, it’s not the most cheerful office decor. The row of cubes can either seem pared down and classic … or mechanical and soul-crushing.

    2. The Quad Table

    fourcube

    A variation on the row, the quad table allows still allows call centers to plant many cubicles in their cube farm, but without the monotony of the traditional row of desks. Advantages of this layout include greater chance for collaboration, a more open and modern feel to the office, and better aesthetics.

    So what’s the disadvantage of the quad table? You probably will lose a bit of space, as it’s not quite as efficient as row after row of desks. Also, the chummier atmosphere might work against your productivity goals, as four people facing each other over a low divider might feel more inclined to talk to one another than to make calls.

    3. The Honeycomb or Zigzag

    honeycomb

    Honeycomb or zigzag designs are the cutting edge of call center cubicle layouts, and might be the wave of the future. They combine the best features of the old and the new, saving space and maximizing productivity while looking fantastic and modern. The staggered layout offers workers privacy while cultivating a feeling of openness and energy flow.

    The drawback to the honeycomb? Cost and planning. These newer designs are offered by high-end firms like Herman Miller, for Herman Miller-style prices. And even budget products will require careful design to make the best use of space.

    Images: 1. http://www.sandiegocubicles.com/blog/, 2. http://www.lcof.com/, 3. http://www.nflinc.com/used-call-center-cubicles.php

    Real-Life Mad Men: Office Furniture From 5 Modern Ad Agencies

    Fans of Mad Men are as obsessed with the style of the show as they are with Don Draper’s adventures in advertising. The clothes the characters wear, the set design of the offices they inhabit, and even the office furniture itself all make a statement about the world they inhabit.

    Set designer Amy Wells obviously carefully selects colors, furnishings, and art to reflect the character of each office. Don’t believe us? Contrast the mid-century modern splendor of Sterling Cooper with the mod color blocking of the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. (There’s also probably some symbolism about that missing second floor, but that’s another post entirely.)

    Of course, looking current and hip has always been important to ad agencies. Their offices are more than just work space: they’re a chance to express their brand to potential clients, and differentiate themselves from the competition.

    Here are some modern ad agencies that use their office furniture to make a statement about their own brand.

    5. Grey Group, New York

    grey-group

    Why you know them: Founded as Grey Advertising in 1917, this is one of the granddaddies of the ad industry, with offices and clients all over the world. Its largest division Grey EMEA is the most awarded agency at the European Effectiveness Awards, and they have Clios to spare. Grey’s clients include Google, Proctor & Gamble, and GlaxoSmithKline, but you probably know them best for those creepy talking E-Trade babies.

    Today’s open office little resembles Duck Phillips’ “Penn Station toilet with venetian blinds” of the Mad Men-era Grey, but it’s still pretty basic for an industry famous for its over-the-top corporate offices. You won’t find stunt furnishings or pop art here. In fact, Grey only recently moved to the open-plan office, ditching both office cubicles and private offices when it consolidated from 26 floors to six.

    The new plan is intended to foster creativity and openness, but has reportedly been a bit of a shock to long-time employees.

    4. Mother, London

    mother

    Why you know them: Mother might be the Anti-Grey. Founded in 1996 around a kitchen table, Mother now has offices in London, New York and Buenos Aires. They’ve done ad campaigns for Stella Artois, Coca-Cola, and Pablo the Drug Mule Dog. (OK, that last campaign was actually for the National Drugs Helpline. Pablo’s just the star.)

    Probably Mother’s greatest claim to fame, though, is its table. No, not the one that it was founded around, although that might be the inspiration for the current version. See, employees at Mother’s don’t work in cubes, or offices, or even a few collaborative work stations. Instead, they work around a concrete table so large it seats 200 and takes up several floors interrupted by staircases as necessary.

    3. Nothing, Amsterdam

    cardboard-ad-agency

    Why you know them: They’re new — as in, founded in 2009 new — but they’ve already done work for MTV and Comedy Central. Also, their site hilariously lists their clients in two buckets: Pre-Nothing, and Nothing. Which, you have to wonder, is better?

    Probably the coolest thing about Nothing, other than their weirdly existential name, is that the whole office is made out of cardboard. It’s strangely beautiful, and expresses their philosophy perfectly, but it also looks like it would make a great kid’s room.

    2. BBDO, Mumbai, India

    BBDO

    Why you know them: BBDO is one of the biggest global ad agencies. It’s also one of the oldest, with roots going back to 1891, and was dubbed the “Most Awarded Agency Network in the World” by the Gunn Report in 2007. According the Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner, BBDO was the inspiration for Sterling Cooper. Their clients include GE, Starbucks, AT&T, Pepsi, Gillette and almost anyone else you can think of.

    BBDO is headquartered in New York, but has over 17,000 employees in offices all over the world. One challenge with such a global brand is making sure that each office is in sync with the community. After all, you can’t have advertising without communication.

    BBDO India in Mumbai solved this problem by designing a whole office inspired by Gandhi’s ashram. The walls are decorated with Warli art, and a traditional spinning wheel hangs by reception. With straw mats on the floor and a writing desk that resembles the one used by Gandhi himself, BBDO India is, as chairman Josy Paul says, “the architectural living poster” of Gandhi.

    1. Dentsu, Londondentsu

    Why you know them: Dentsu is another venerable advertising institution, founded in 1901 in Tokyo. They now have offices all over Asia, Europe and the Americas. In terms of clients, they’ve worked with Canon, Hitachi … and the Pokemon Group.

    The London office is affectionately known as “the spaceship” by its employees, and it’s easy to see why. Reception looks like the entrance to a cargo bay in a sci-fi movie, and the creative spaces look like a library as envisioned by Stanley Kubrick. Add padded meeting rooms and a penthouse boardroom, and you have the coolest corporate spaceship ever designed.

    Images: 5. Treehugger.com, 4. Archidose.blogspot.com, 3. Smarterware.org, 2. Businessworld.com, 1. Homedesign69.com