Design Week at Bell Works Inspires A Work Happy, Work Inspired Office Culture

Happiness isn’t overrated. In fact, it’s a vital part of an inspired, stimulating work culture where employees feel valued and nurtured.

Working inspired is at the core of the Bell Works mission — breaking down the barriers found in most closed office environments, giving people the space to interact and thrive. Bell Works, the reimagined former Bell Labs building, is being designed as a live, work play mixed-use community right in the heart of Holmdel, NJ.

Paola Zamudio, owner of NPZ Style + Décor and interior designer for the Bell Works renovation project, believes achieving a work happy environment is a blend of many things.

“Working happy is a combination of a space that is well designed, a culture where people feel inspired, a sense of community where people want to belong, and having a workspace that promotes wellbeing,” Paola said.

Some of those well-designed spaces at Bell Works come in the form of pre-built coworking rooms designed by Paola. The Bauhaus Futura room in vi Innovation Labs is bright, colorful and creative, inspired by the Bauhaus Art and Design Style featuring Herman Miller furniture with a bright, artistic spirit. Industrial Luxe is laid back and collaborative, with sleek finishes and an open ceiling, and Eero’s Dream pays homage to Saarinen with its modern, sleek and one-of-a-kind design.

The Bell Labs building was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1962, who saw the future of work here. With collaboration in mind, he inverted the building, with the hallways on the inside and open space in the middle.

“He designed a building of the future in Bell Labs,” Paola said. “Long hallways, creative hubs where scientists and technologists could meet and share ideas. Now at Bell Works, we are keeping Saarinen’s legacy alive by designing spaces that keep creative juices flowing. We want people from different backgrounds to meet, collaborate and create something amazing!”

The scope and uniqueness of the Bell Works project has drawn national attention, with features in Fortune, NPR, Dwell, Architect Magazine and Inc. The design work being done in the historic midcentury building grabbed the attention of Bobby Berk, millennial designer of Bobby Berk Home. Bobby is visiting Bell Works and its coworking spaces vi Collaboration Hub on Friday, September 23.

An innovator putting a major emphasis on working happy is Poppin, an office solution startup based in New York City. Poppin believes great work is inspired by designing a physical space that puts culture front and center. The company reimagines ordinary artifacts found in the office into extraordinary pieces that make the office come alive.

Victoria Pascoe, architecture and design market manager with Poppin, believes there are two ways to look at working happy, and companies and organizations who place an emphasis on culture are easy to recognize.

“Working happy can refer to both the physical space and/or the company culture you instill,” Victoria said. “Building and exuding a strong office culture has so many benefits – from attracting and retaining top talent to boosting productivity and encouraging inter-departmental collaboration — culture is key!”

At Poppin, the mission is simple. Help create uniquely-designed spaces where employees can work creatively, comfortably and collaboratively.

“The notion of creating spaces where employees can work happy is becoming more important to designers and the end users,” Victoria said. “There’s been a shift in articulating corporate culture through design because it creates a sense of belonging in the workplace, breeds satisfaction, and has an amazing unifying effect.”

Working happy drives innovation. From colors and textiles, to big open spaces and happy hours, work environments are changing, and for the better.

Bolon, the Swedish design company known for its woven vinyl flooring, is just one company helping drive innovation through creative materials and flexible products. Ed Pedrick, managing director at Bolon North America, is a big believer in technology and its drive to support new modes of working of digital natives vs digital immigrants.

“It’s vital to create work places that support these varying cultural differences and cultivate environments that inspire through designing spaces that support different requirements throughout the day,” Ed said. “Whether it’s focused work, collaborative meetings or community gathering areas, creating a happy workplace is not only about supporting fun but also supporting efficiencies so that you feel fulfilled with your productivity and interactions with your colleagues.”

One company right here in the Garden State leading the way in creating great culture and workspaces for employees is iCIMS, a talent acquisition software solutions company who is moving to Bell Works in 2017 from its current location in Matawan. Voted one of the Best Companies to Work For in New Jersey the past five consecutive years by NJBIZ, iCIMS is known for its positive culture focused on wealth, wellness and well-being.

“Culture plays a critical role in the work environment,” said Deborah Walsh, Workplace Services Executive with iCIMS. “It’s the reflection of the way people communicate, their pattern of behavior. Commonality is a way to stay in touch with the world at large through design and trends. I believe it’s also important to create a unique corporate culture that sets the style/values for an individual company. iCIMS has a set of core competencies that mirror our work ethic and are built in to the structure of our organization.”

So how can companies big and small work to create workspaces of happiness and inspiration?

“We like to design spaces to sync to brand identity and values,” Paola said of Bell Works. “Some might have open space offices and others might be more individualized. We love using furniture that is flexible, that can be reconfigured and modular. That’s what people want these days. That’s why we love Poppin, Herman Miller and Bolon, because they’re flexible and easy to use, but bring color, art and design into the spaces.”

For Poppin, working happy is about working scrappy.

“We’re creatively scrappy with getting the most out of our space, which is a huge challenge in Manhattan,” said Victoria. “We’ve created collaborative areas with modular, active lounge and soft seating which is great for encouraging people to get up from their desks and move around. We also utilize hoteling stations and standing-height tables for quick meetings. Poppin is a very colorful brand so utilizing color also plays a big role in infusing our space with our culture-friendly brand identity.”

Deborah, who is tasked with overseeing the iCIMS move from Matawan to Bell Works, is in the thick of creating a work happy environment for iCIMS employees. So what is Deborah thinking about as she works to create this culture in a new environment?

“I think lighting is one of the most significant design features in a space,” she said. “It sets the tone/mood and creates atmosphere. Lighting serves as an accessory, much the same as jewelry in your wardrobe. Of course furniture is a central component to the office and can be both functional and fun. I love open environments with clear views to the outdoors, collaborative areas and quiet nooks. Creative signage and branding that surprises the viewer — anything you don’t expect to see in the typical workplace.”

At Bolon, a major focus on working happy is creating a family environment that shares and supports one another’s successes and challenges in work and life.

“When this philosophy is adopted it inspires everyone from the top down to be the best co-worker and friend they can be,” Ed said. “It’s important that you smile when you arrive in the morning and when you leave – what happens in the middle cannot always be controlled.”

Interested in creating workspaces of happy inspiration?

Join us for a meetup, How To Transform The Traditional Office To a Work Happy Environment, at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 21 at the Big Bang Café at Bell Works, 101 Crawfords Corner, Holmdel, NJ. Whether you’re starting up or making over, learn how you can create an environment of happy inspiration within your office culture.  Register here.

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