Every company has its own philosophy, its own set of internal guidelines and its own way of being successful (or not). For GitHub the secret lies in collaboration. The GitHub team started out small, like all others, and in six years became a $900 million company with a name known by all software developers everywhere. At first, employees were writing code in bars, coffee shops or their own home offices and, as things progressed, a headquarters was created. It’s a 55,000 square foot (5109 square meters) space located in the SoMa District of San Francisco and designed by FENNIE+MEHL Architects and Studio Hatch. You’d expect things to change after that but instead of adopting the corporate office design direction, the GitHub HQ rediscovered the company’s origins and stayed funky and unique.
There are no cold and austere workspaces here. In fact, there are no conventional office spaces of any kind in this headquarters. Instead of using meeting rooms and formal offices employees spend their time in bars, cafes and a bunch of other casual and laid back spaces where they’re encouraged to interact and to collaborate. Actually, a lack of formality and strict rules seems to be the recipe for success here.
Every morning GitHub employees get to decide where they want to work. They can choose between two bars, several cafes, a library, a museum, a speakeasy and even their own homes to work in. It’s all about freedom of choice, collaboration and independent thinking. It seems that being unconventional worked right from the start and helped the company to get to the point where it is today so the architects found inspiration in that and managed to translate this philosophy into a perfect interior design.
Working in this sort of unconventional spaces helps the employees to stay connected to the to the company’s core values in a very special way and also allows them to stay relaxed, friendly and better-inclined to collaborate with others and to try new things every day. It’s the open-minded attitude that inspired the founders to start the company in the first place and then to lead it to success.
The GitHub San Francisco HQ is definitely not what you’d expect, unless you’re familiar with the company’s history in which case everything makes total sense. It’s not a colorful or very fresh space, at least not in the way other offices are. Its style is more rugged, with strong industrial influences but also with obvious rustic and modern elements and a few perfectly planned features which are designed to make spaces feel welcoming.
The most important ideas and feedback regarding the interior design of the headquarters came from the employees. They got to shape their own workspaces and to decide how they want to spend their time at the office. This is extremely important for boosting the morale at the workplace and for drawing in loyal and dedicated people as well as for keeping the already existing employees happy and inspired. It’s a strategy used by several other big and small companies, each with its own strategy. The tricky thing every time is finding the identity of the company and expressing it in the right way.