Category Archives: Happy companies

Yet another cool workplace

I recently had a chance to visit PEER1 hosting in Southampton in southern England and talk to their CEO Dominic Monkhouse about their culture.

PEER1 does hosting for big web sites and have around 120 employees in the UK. They have a very clear vision for creating customer happiness, and have realized that this is only possible when you have happy employees.

There are many cool aspects of their culture (here’s an excellent video where Dom explains it), but the most visible is how cool their office space is. First of all, it’s on the docks in Southampton with beautiful views over the water – but they’ve also gone out of their way to introduce many great-looking, fun and functional elements.

Here are my photos from a seeeeeriously cool workplace.

This is the lobby and the first thing you see when you enter the office.
This is the lobby and the first thing you see when you enter the office. It’s also where they gather all employees for company-wide meetings.
The slide.
The slide. I tried it. It was awesome.
A game of pool in progress in the middle of the work day.
A game of pool in progress in the middle of the work day.
Great desks. Take up a little more space than the square ones but look a lot cooler.
Great desks. Take up a little more space than the square ones but look a lot cooler.
What UK workplace is complete without its own pub. That's Dom, the CEO, behind the bar.
What UK workplace is complete without its own pub. That’s Dom, the CEO, behind the bar.
The slide. I tried it. It was awesome.
Looking down at the slide.
This is the wall where they celebrate their mistakes.
This is the wall where they celebrate their mistakes.
Wall art made from old server parts.
Wall art made from old server parts.
One of PEER1's values, printed on a swing. Very fitting.
One of PEER1’s values engraved on a swing. Very fitting.
Cool wall.
Cool wall.

Another seeeeeeeriously cool workplace

There are boring offfices, cool offices and offices that just take your breath away!

In December we got a tour of dPOP in Detroit and what we saw there blew us away completely.

This is hardly surprising – dPOP’s business is to design office spaces for their clients – but still, this space was beyond awesome.

Here are a few of the pics we took at one seeeeeeriously cool office.

2013-12-17 12.09.10Why NOT have a space suit in your lobby?

2013-12-17 12.11.17The office is in an old bank vault and the vault doors are still there.

2013-12-17 12.11.52Inside the vault is this amazing meeting room.

2013-12-17 12.13.39This meeting table spins like one of those playground carousels.

2013-12-17 12.17.56Besides your desk, there are many other places to meet and work.

2013-12-17 12.19.53Another vault door.

2013-12-17 12.21.14Behind which is another meeting room.

2013-12-17 12.23.12They’ve kept all the safe deposit boxes, many of which are still locked.

2013-12-17 12.26.56
These shelves contain objects found during the renovation, arranged by two local artists.

2013-12-17 12.31.03This mural was chiseled into the concrete wall by an artist.

2013-12-17 12.32.21Another meeting space.

Not only is dPOP’s own HQ cool, the spaces they’ve designed for their clients are just amazing. You can see some of their work here.

I’m not going to claim that redecorating the office space is a surefire way to create a happy workplace. I’ve seen some very unhappy workplaces, that had beautiful bright airy office spaces but completely toxic cultures. I’ve also seen incredibly happy workplaces, whose offices look like crap.

But I still think that office design matters. And on a more fundamental level, why does every workplace have to look the same? Why does every office or meeting room inside a company have to look the same? We know that our minds thrive on variety and I think you can let the office design reflect that.

Your take

What do you think of dPOP’s office? How does the look compare to your office? What are some things you love about the design of your workplace? What are some things that just don’t work?

Related posts

A Chief Storyteller shares his best happiness tips

In December we did a tour of some of the happiest workplaces in the US to see what ideas we could steal borrow from them.

Above is an interview I did with Richard Sheridan, the founder and Chief Storyteller of Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In this brief video, he shares some of the great things they’ve done to make Menlo a very happy workplace.

Among other things Rich talks about:

  • How leaders can pump fear out of the room
  • Never working more than 40 hours a week
  • Eliminating meetings
  • Eliminating internal email
  • Creating a physical space that’s conducive to happiness at work

Watch it and let me know what you think. Is there anything your company could learn from Menlo? Are you already doing something similar?

Rich is also the author of the excellent book Joy Inc, which I’ve reviewed here.

Book review: Joy, Inc by Rich Sheridan

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Rich Sheridan came out December 26 and it’s the single best business book I have read in a long while.

Menlo is a software design and development company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have built a culture that removes the fear and ambiguity that traditionally makes a workplace miserable and made joy their explicit goal.

I have recently had a chance to spend a day at Menlo talking to their founders and their people and I can say with confidence that they are an amazing workplace with a remarkable energy.

How would you like to work at a company where:

  • They’ve eliminated meetings
  • They’ve eliminated internal email
  • Employees can bring dogs and babies to work
  • You work a 40-hour work week
  • Finances and salaries are transparent
  • You get to constantly learn from and with your co-workers

I’ve previously written about Menlo on this blog – especially about their hiring process which is radically different from other companies.

Joy Inc by Rich SheridanThis book is a pleasure to read and has a great story that will pull you right in but it is, above all, incredibly useful.

Sheridan clearly lays out the many innovative and effective things they’ve done to create a happy workplace and most of them could without a doubt be translated into any kind of workplace.

You will read this book with a smile on your face and go “Of course – that makes perfect sense! Why isn’t every workplace doing this?”



Richard BransonJust found this great quote from Richard Branson, founder and CEO of Virgin.

I’m often asked what it is that makes Virgin different. The simple answer is – our people. If it weren’t for a bunch of well trained, motivated and, above all, happy people doing their bit, we’d have never launched a record label, never mind a fleet of 747s.

– Sir Richard Branson


10 great ways to make your company happier – Will McInnes

Will McInnes is the founder and former CEO of NixonMcInnes, a consulting company in Brighton, England and the author of the excellent book Culture Shock – A Handbook for 21st Century Business.

Will has spearheaded the drive to make NixonMcInnes a happy and successful workplace and in this speech from our 2012 conference he shares their best tips and techniques.

Our conference about happiness at work was a massive hit

Conference about happiness at work

On May 30 we held our 5th annual conference about happiness at work in Copenhagen and this one was the best one yet :-)

The event was completely sold out and 360 participants saw 11 different speakers share their ideas and tips about creating happy workplaces. The feedback has been stunningly positive – 80% give the day a top grade and 18% give it 4 out of 5.

As always we filmed all the speakers and will put them online for free. You can see the first speech here – it’s an insanely inspiring talk where David Marquet explains how he made a nuclear submarine a happy workplace.

You can see some pictures from the event below and there are a ton more pics here, courtesy of our fantastic photographer Gareth Garvey.

Watch this incredibly inspiring speech by Charlie Kim, CEO of Next Jump

I recently wrote about New York based company Next Jump and the world-leading things they’ve done to create a very happy workplace.

Here’s a fantastic speech from their founder and CEO Charlie Kim where he talks about the principles behind Next Jump:

Watching it, I was constantly entertained, enlightened and inspired. Two of my favorite points are Kim’s assertion that corporate values are meaningless (or possibly even harmful) and his passionate advice to get comfortable with failure. It’s great, great stuff.

It’s an hour long and I highly recommend watching the whole thing.

Fighting cancer with happiness

The staff of Delete Blood Cancer with their brand new copies of Happy Hour is 9 to 5. WOOHOO!

I recently spoke about happiness at work in New York and after the event, one attendee sent me this email:

Thanks for coming to speak to the group in New York last month. Glad I got the chance to finally meet you after reading your blog for so many years.

When I got back to work the next day, I told my department about your talk and showed them some of the videos on your site. My boss, inspired by the overall message of Arbejdsglaede and amused by the hand-drawn video, bought a copy of your book for everyone in our group. Here is a photo of us with our crisp new copies!

Most of us are quite new, as our company is growing fast. We’re hoping to build a happy, productive workplace and will be using your book as one of the prime resources. Hopefully, we’ll soon develop a reputation as a great place to work, in addition to being known for the word we do [matching bone marrow donors to Leukemia patients in need].

Thanks for all you do, keep up the good work.

And right back at ya, Prescott!

I recently did an interview about happiness at work in non-profits. Sadly I’ve found that while the work people do there is often very rewarding and meaningful, they are not always very happy workplaces.

You can read more about Delete Blood Cancer and the amazing work they do here. I highly urge you to check it out and to register as a donor today. You could save someone’s life.