Improve Employees Happiness with Extraordinary Office Design and Unique Organization Culture

Many research finding says happy employees result on better performance. There are many benefits that organisation able to gain by made their employees feels happy such as happy employees works better with their colleagues, happy employees tend to be more creative and happy employees are more optimistic. (Kjerulf, 2007)

Is it possible for an organisation to bring happiness, the comfortable feeling and employees enjoying every piece of their time to doing any activity at their work place? Is it possible for an organisation to implement value of fun and playing on their organisation to gain better employees performance? The writer tries to answer those question by develop logical relevancy how employees able to feels joyful at their house and implement it to the organisation environment. First thing organisation should understand is what are the reason people feels so comfortable at their house? First reason might be because they able to change and modify their house as they like to be. The second reason might be because they able to feels the love atmosphere from their family. Next thing organisation should try to answer is, what is the reason people enjoying so much their leisure time? Because people able to do whatever they love to do at that time. The writer emphasise ability to change and modify their environment, feels love atmosphere from their colleagues and do what the employees love to do might be the reason that the organisation need to understand how to keep their employees perform excel. Then coming the new question, is it the answer right?

Writer tries to drawing research from real success organisation case study and dragging academic reasoning from journals and articles to prove above answer. Writer used Zappos and Pixar as the example organisation that have unique value of fun and play that implemented at their organisation. The main objectives of this article are identified value of fun and play of those organisations that impacted into employee’s performance and validate it with research journals.



Pixar is an American computer film studio that has earned many prestigious movie awards such as Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammy Awards with total income from their movies over $6.3 billion worldwide.  Pixar success story may come over from their unique treatment for their employees such as extra ordinary office design and organisation culture.

Office Design






Pixar build their office filled with figurines and paintings from their movies or creations, such as Toy Story, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo at the wall.  Pixar also build interesting rooms at the office, one room with many choices cereal for employees breakfast, and other room with ping-pong tables and fighting foosball tables for their employees’ joys. Instead of having cubicles for employees to work, Pixar prefer to build attractive huts with a lot of ornament inside and out. Its looks more luxurious and have bigger space than traditional cubicles.

Organisation Culture








Pixar’s employees were extra-ordinary. They able to chose and decide their own working time not like in other company that have to work 9-5. Some of them would come to work at lunchtime and work until night. Freedom and flexible culture that allow employees to bring their pets to work and not using their shoes at workplace represent Pixar far away from professional company characteristic. Somehow Pixar unconventional culture made the company as enjoyable and fun place for work and result highly productive employees. Employees are not expected to gain a lot of money but stuck into their task instead of imagining and doing something totally different, something completely new. Pixar core values are:

  1. Cultivate an air of open and honest communication
  2. Keep it egalitarian
  3. Keep your eye on the ball
  4. Maintain your quality
  5. Trust the artists


Zappos is one of the largest online retailer shoes that have a massive different brand of shoes for customer to chose on their website. Zappos was founded in 1999, start from offering shoes only until they expanded their products to merchandise, clothing and accessories from Zappos subsidiary companies. Zappos was able to gain annual sales $1billion within their 10 years of operation. Moreover, Zappos also listed as Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For on 2009. In the same year, Zappos other big step was being acquired by

Office Design








Zappos encouraged their employees’ creativity to design their own workstation and cubicles. Its common for each department to has its own theme decoration. Unusual organisation environment may shows on their office design, a bed in the middle of office or dragons sculpture on the ceiling. Zappos several benefits for their employees including employee allow to choose their own lunch’s menu without any cost at all, free vending machines for snacks, free health care, bedroom for afternoon break, and library. Zappos core philosophy to make happy customer and satisfied employees provided from their freedom to shaping and changing the surrounding of company

Organisation Culture







Zappos has received big amount of media attention for their unique organisation culture considered Zappos short time 10 years of operation. However, Zappos deserved to get the attention from media based on their extra ordinary example of culture (Chafkin, 2009). Zappos applicants will be asked how weird are they from scale 1-10 and what is their theme song. Zappos did that kind of interview to find new employees that will be fitted perfectly into their organisation culture. Zappos set 4 weeks customer loyalty training course for all newly hired employees includes 2 weeks of talking on the phone with customer. After the new employees finished their training session, Zappos offering money $2000 to quit to them. This act will be screening employees that really want to working at Zappos. Zappos ten core values are:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service.
  2. Embrace and Drive Change.
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded.
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning.
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication.
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.
  8. Do More With Less.
  9. Be Passionate and Determined.
  10. 10.  Be Humble (Hsieh, 2010, p. 154).

Correlations of Office Design with Happiness and Employees Performance

Architect and building director of office station is often used psychologist to give recommendation and advice for their office design. Office design determines how is the interaction model between employees and up coming with development of organisation culture. Le Corbusier (1923) stated his famous words “the house is a machine for living in” and it matched with the condition that offices are machines for employees whom working in it. Organisation needs to understand the behaviour and requirement from employees to be able build a right workplaces environment, therefore psychologist skills needed to realize it. But no wonder, there are still many employees that sit down behind their desk and working hard at their keyboard on same design office cubicles without any idea what is the best work environment suited for them. In fact, work environment that conducive for the employees can really make a job more pleasurable. Many organisation such as Facebook, Google, Pixar, Yahoo, Apple and else, implement different and unique office design at their organisation to achieve their employees comfortable feeling as high as possible.

Medina (2008, 20) defined on his research that sports able to boost up employees’ performance much better than employees that rarely doing any sports activity. Medina also examined Vice President from Boeing airlines that installed treadmill on his office to help him clear his mind and to get focused under the daily stress condition. Office designs have big effect and very vital to increased employee’s productivity (Hameed and Amjad 2009,2). Hameed and Amjad (2009,2) also stated that comfortable and ergonomic office design stimulates employees performance better than ordinary office design. Ornstein (1989, 144) identified office design has a big effect on employee’s behaviour and performance.

Based on Ornstein (1989,144) finding shows group of product engineers that working under open offices result with their quality and quantity of ideas improve greater than working under traditional office design. In other hand study finding by Jackson, Klein and Wogalter (1997, 509) shows employees’ performance for computer editing task in open-plan office environment with continues background speech was significantly lower than employees under quiet environment.

Degree of comfort workstation significantly affect to employees performance according to research from UK’s Health and Safety Executive branch (heartmath, 2011). Based on the research shows approximately 64 percent of workers reported have suffered from because of an uncomfortable workspace. Munirathinam and Ramesh (2011, 28) affirmed on their research that ergonomics workstation, safe and healthy environment, able to improve employees effectiveness and result to better employees performance.

Different people require different environments at different times to perform well, depending upon the task they are conducting and personal factors, and key to the solution is providing a choice of work-settings to support different tasks and environmental preferences. (Oseland 2009, 254)

Impact of Organisation Culture to Employees Performance

Job satisfaction at workplace has received big attention from many scholars to do research about this theme. Organisation performance determines from employees job satisfaction that more likely perform excel if they satisfied with their job (Riketta 2002, 256). Employees that dissatisfied at work are less committed at their job and will look other opportunities to quit (Lok and Crawford 2004, 321). Lok and Crawford (2004, 321) also stated that employees that do not have opportunities from different workplace, they will mentally and emotionally not attached to the organisation anymore.

Burkus (2011,1) research finding shows that employee’s behaviour and communication style mainly influenced from organizational culture. Organisation culture also has a big impact to employee’s performance and productivity level of organisation (Ojo 2009, 388). Olasupo (2011,159) research finding shows that organisation with high innovation culture more likely to have satisfied and happy employees for working there.

Moreover, high retention rate resulted from employees that perceived their values are fitted with the organisation culture  (Chaterjee 2009, 147).

Pixar and Zappos culture shows their not so traditional culture that allow employees behave and act so weird as long as it’s not harming other peoples. In return, their employees feel satisfied to working at the company. Their employees are happy to stay at company until late night to finish their job without complaining. Moreover, they also have very low level of employees turn over. Both of companies achieved as the best 100 places for working in.


Both of companies has their own unique style to design their office work station and develop their organisation culture that employees feel fitted in to work and stay at the company. Not so many organisations that consider about having extra ordinary culture and office design. They may think about it but they seem pretending to stay at their state. Those example organisations are coming from different characteristic and industry area. One is animation company represent creative industry, and the other one is web based retail store that more likely represent service industry. Their similarity was come from their willingness to develop culture and office design that suited with employees need and coming from the employee’s wish. It will be challenge for the entire organisation to always develop and  improve their unique characteristic rather than just follow other organisation characteristic to achieved greater result.


Burkus, D. 2011. A Tale of Two Cultures: Why Culture Trumps Core Values in Building Ethical Organizations. The Journal Of Valued Based Leadership 4 (1) : 1-5

Corbusier, L. 1923. Towards a New Architecture. Oxford: Architectural Press.

Chafkin, M. (2009). Get happy. Inc., 31(4), 66-73.

Chatterjee, N. 2009. A study of organisational culture and its effect on employee retention. Journal of Management II (2): 147-154

Hameed A. and S. Amjad. 2009. Impact of Office Design on Employees’ Productivity: A Case study of Banking. Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management 3 (1): 1-13

Hsieh, T. (2010). Delivering happiness: A path to profits, passion and purpose. New York: Business Plus.

Hearthmath: Employee Performance. News.

Jackson, T. S., K. W. Klein, and M. S. Wogalter. 1997. Open-plan office designs: An examination of unattended speech, performance, and focused attention. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 41 (1): 509-513

Kjerulf, A. 2007. Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster.

Lok, P. and J. Crawford. 2004.  The Effect Of Organisational Culture And Leadership Style On Job Satisfaction And Organisational Commitment. The Journal Of Management Development 23 (3) 321-338

Medina, J. 2008. Brain Rules. Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka.

Munirathinam, N. T. and G. Ramesh. 2011. Achieving Organizational Effectiveness through Health Management and Ergonomics. Journal Advances In Management 4 (4): 28-31

Ojo, O. 2009. Impact Assessment Of Corporate Culture On Employee Job Performance. Business Intelligence Journal 2 (2): 388-397

Olasupo, M. O. 2011.  Relationship Between Organizational Culture, Leadership Style And Job Satisfaction In A Nigerian Manufacturing Organization. Ife PsychologIA 19 (1): 159-176

Ornstein, S. 1989. The Hidden Influences Of Office Design. The Academy of Management Executive 3 (2): 144-161.

Oseland, N. 2009. The impact of psychological needs on office design. Journal Corporate Real Estate 11(4): 244-254

Riketta. 2002. Attitudinal Organizational Commitment And Job Performance A Meta Analysis. Journal Of Organizational Behaviour 23: 257-266


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