Offices have changed quite a bit over the past couple of decades. They were once stuffy, unenlightened spaces consisting of nothing but rows of white and gray cubicles, but the offices established by modern technology firms are designed to keep the spark of creativity alive. These spaces are plush and offer options for either relaxation or stimulation, depending on what you need at the moment to keep productivity and innovation running strong over the long-term.
Google, Apple and Facebook are all renowned for their unique, vitalizing offices filled with sofas, big bean bags, trees, pool tables and video game systems, but a few tech companies have gone over and above even these powerhouses. One company’s office has recently been garnering a fair share of attention, and some have even called it the ultimate office workspace. This company is CouchSurfing International Inc., which is based in San Francisco, the heart of tech country.
The CouchSurfing System
CouchSurfing is a website that connects more than 11 million people in 200,000 cities around the world. People become members of CouchSurfing for one of two reasons: to find someone who is willing to share a couch, a floor or even a bed for one or more nights while traveling or to offer a space at home for travelers who need it.
Through CouchSurfing, people are able to stay with local residents in just about any country in the world. This allows you to live, dine and recreate with guidance from those who are part of the culture, which creates an experience that money cannot buy.
Many CouchSurfers also hold special meetings and events where you can exchange help in foreign languages, learn traditional dances, go on hikes or have conversational dinners. Once a member experiences CouchSurfing, it is not unusual for him or her to go on to become a host and to share the culture at home with visitors.
CouchSurfing is built on five core values:
1. Sharing a life, a home, a culture and experiences spawns generosity.
2. Creating connections with others spawns true happiness and kindness.
3. Offering kindness, tolerance and respect leads to appreciation.
4. Curiosity helps us grow together as global citizens.
5. We are here to make the world in a better place.
The CouchSurfing Office
The CouchSurfing headquarters in San Francisco is comprised of several areas that each have unique styles yet contribute to an overall design and feel. The wooden loft is one such area, and it is decorated sparsely with natural wood desks, ergonomic chairs, yoga balls, big bean bags, frieze carpeting and views of the lower levels among the rafters.
Another space located above the primary working area is known as The Chill Space. It boasts several comfy chairs, large sofas and big bean bags for lounging and relaxing. Various table games, such as foosball, are also available to blow off steam. In addition, an open, carpeted space is where yoga and meditation classes are held.
A similar area is called The Meeting Space, and it is populated primarily with couches and floor-to-ceiling wall art that complements an array of plant life. The aesthetic here is pleasing and contributes to productive and collaborative meetings.
The CouchSurfing office also has its own bar, which is called The Social Engine. This is a place where employees gather on Friday afternoon and evening to discuss how the week has gone and the plans they have for the weekend.
One of the most innovative and open features of the office is that it is available to each and every one of its members in addition to its employees. Members of the community are welcome to bring their laptops and hang out for the day, meeting with those who make CouchSurfing possible.