Lisa and Ben are standing in the middle of a cavernous empty office. It smells damp.
“Well, I guess this could be nice,” says Ben, looking at the peeling corners of the carpet tiles beneath his feet and the adjacent coffee stain that possibly predates Y2K.
Lisa looks at the wires hanging from the ceiling. “Before or after we set fire to it?”
“C’mon, Lisa. Imagine the possibilities.”
Ben makes a wide gesture with his arms and motions towards the space in front of him.
“We could have our team sitting right by that window over there. It’s a great view.”
“We could even have our own coffee machine, and maybe a screen on the wall, and…”
Mia shoves the front door open too hard and the handle collides loudly with the adjoining wall. She announces her presence, although she’s already done that quite successfully.
The developers in question exchange glances.
“We’re data scientists,” exclaims Lisa.
Ben looks dubious. “Oh no, she has company.”
Mia is followed by three identically dressed men with matching brown brogues, black trench coats, and black oversized spectacles.
Lisa looks twice in surprise as they file in, one after the other.
She whispers quietly to Ben. “Is this a glitch in the Matrix?”
The group approach, with hands outstretched, ready to greet. Mia introduces them.
“Lisa, Ben; meet the agency is who is going to turn this old office into a masterpiece for us: Ashley, Ashley and Ashley.”
The first man speaks. “Thank you Mia. We really enjoyed meeting your sales team earlier.”
They all shake hands in turn.
“Hey, I’m Reuben Ashley.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Reese Ashley.”
“Hello. I’m Ramon.”
“Ramon Ashley?” enquires Ben.
“No, Ramon Martínez Simón.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you too,” says Lisa, relinquishing their firm handshake grip.
The group walk across the tatty floor towards the few remaining pieces of furniture from the previous occupiers. They sit down.
“Ashley, Ashley and Ashley have been working on some ideas for how we’re going to turn this space into something fantastic,” declares Mia.
“Yes, yes, we have. We’ve brought some initial designs along with us today. Mia informed us that you are two of the longest serving developers here, so you’d have a good idea about what you’d want in your ideal workspace.”
“We’re data scientists,” replies Ben.
“It doesn’t matter,” says Lisa. “We really appreciate you getting our opinion on it! What sort of ideas did you already have in mind?”
She looks around at the empty room.
“This place is huge, so it could be really amazing.”
Reuben reaches down into his leather folio and extracts a thick stack of colorful card.
“I think you’re going to like what we’ve been ideating on here.”
He turns the first drawing towards them.
Ben and Lisa scoot their chairs closer. Ben’s wobbly chair leg gets stuck on a tacky pink substance left on the carpet and he wiggles it free, leaving a rope of slime behind.
He looks at the mess. “Gross.”
“OK, let’s go through these,” says Reuben.
The initial drawing is a cacophony of color. Red sofas, green beanbags, yellow carpet; all drawing attention to the beautiful, long, translucent acrylic reception desk.
Reese makes an open-handed gesture in front of the stack of cards. “We wanted the entrance of the office to look inviting and fun. Clients will want to visit you here. Interviewees will want to work here the moment they come through the door.”
Lisa and Ben nod in agreement.
“Looks great,” says Lisa.
“Good,” says Reuben. He moves the next drawing to the front of the stack so they can see.
It details a breakout area complete with table tennis and air hockey tables, complimented with reclaimed wood furniture, metal café chairs in a kaleidoscope of colors, and oversized spherical white pendant lighting.
Reese continues. “Notice how we’ve created this central hub, accessible from all work areas, where most employees will visit throughout the day. We think that this will help colleagues connect and strike up interesting conversations.”
They nod again.
“Yeah, I like that. The breakout in our old office is such an awkward area to sit in. People tend to eat lunch at their desks,” says Lisa.
Ramon chuckles. “Of course, you developers aren’t really ones for talking to people are you?”
He continues to laugh. Ben raises his eyebrow.
“We’re data scientists,” states Lisa.
“Let’s not get too distracted, Ramon,” says Reuben, pushing his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. Let’s take a look at some of the work areas.”
He moves the next thick piece of card to the front of the deck. It shows the main floor of the office, sprinkled with clusters of white desks, each paired with black Aeron chairs. The desk islands are flanked by colorful fabric dividers, intended to give teams their own private spaces.
“I like this,” says Ben, pointing at the dividers. “I know we can’t all have our own small offices, but this is a pretty good compromise. What’s that on the floor?”
“Because it’s a team sport.”
“What’s a team sport?”
Ben leans in closer to the drawing, squinting.
“Hang on, what are those little boxes at the back of the room?”
“Ah, well spotted. We’ve thought about some features to make this place really cool,” says Ramon.
On cue, Reuben moves the next drawing to the front of the stack. Lisa is lost for words.
“…are those… dog kennels?”
Mia smiles. “Love the kennels. Love them!”
“Why would there be human-sized dog kennels?” asks Ben.
“We wanted an innovative and playful solution to the lack of meeting room space,” explains Reuben.
“I’m just not sure if it sets the right…”
“Get the geeks in the doghouse! A-woooooo!”
Ramon just couldn’t control himself. He’s not alone.
“A-wooooo!” replies Mia with her head tilted back. “I love dogs. Love them! This is so fun!”
“Erm,” says Lisa with a hand on her chin. “Isn’t that a little offensive? We’re not dogs, after all. We’re professionals.”
Lisa and Ben meet eyes. Their eyebrows couldn’t get any higher.
“It’s playful, Lisa. Imagine how fun meetings would be in the kennels! There’s even little dog bowl coasters for your coffee,” states Reese.
A number of inoffensive drawings that did not contain dog kennels have passed by. The next card comes to the front of the stack. Ramon looks up expectantly with a smile on his face.
“It’s a bed. Why is it a bed?” asks Ben.
“There have to be cool places to hang out.”
“But on a bed?”
“Yeah. Imagine: it’s laptop and chill. Did you ever see Paula Yates on the Big Breakfast? Amazing interviews from the bedroom. Such creativity. It sets such a different tone.”
“I’m not sure if I want to lie in a bed with my colleagues,” says Lisa.
Ramon laughs. “I want all of these socially awkward developers to come out of their shell! This will be brilliant! Imagine them asking to go to bed with one another, it’ll be hilarious! It’ll break down social barriers. Create new friendships.“
“And maybe more if you know what I mean!” shouts Mia. “I love it! A-wooooo!”
Ben and Lisa exchange glances. Lisa interrupts the laughing.
“Have HR seen these designs?”
The front door opens, and it’s the CEO, Tim. Reuben stands up and waves.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” says Reese. “We’re just getting to the design of your new office.”
Tim sits down next to Lisa and Ben. He smiles. “Looks good so far, doesn’t it?”
“…yeah,” says Ben, through gritted teeth.
“OK, to your office, Tim,” says Reuben, once again adjusting his slipping glasses with his middle finger. “Tell me what you told all of your customers at your annual keynote last month.”
Tim beams and sits up straight.
“We’re going to turn the world of software upside down,” bellows Tim through his immaculately projected stage voice.
“Please don’t tell me you’ve put his desk on the ceiling,” says Lisa.
Reuben rotates the cards.
“We’ve put your desk on the ceiling,” says Ramon.
Ben’s shoe is stuck to the floor.