An inside peek at 8 of Chicago's sleekest tech spaces

by Sam Dewey
May 19, 2016

While a swanky office space isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, we’d be lying if we said it didn’t carry at least a little weight when it comes to wooing over a prospective employee. Most people (including yours truly) want to work in an environment that energizes them — that makes them feel engaged and motivated and at home.

It may seem insignificant, but a company’s culture truly is informed by what’s physically contained within its four walls. Whether that’s cutting-edge design, stocked kitchens, open layouts with awesome views, or plenty of toys to keep workers entertained, tech companies of all sizes lean on elements of their office to bolster overall culture and ground their sense of identity.

Here’s an inside peek at eight of Chicago’s coolest tech companies. Happy window shopping, Chicago — try not to stare too long.



"Our space was designed to reflect the dynamic and interactive nature of our business," said Maureen Calabrese, Cision's Chief People Officer. "The open floor plan and bright pops of color contribute to a constant buzz of excitement and collaboration. You can hear the hum sitting in the lobby. We took care to develop a central café that facilitates organic connections, with added perks like espresso and approximately 118 soda options. The interior reflects a specific intention that all employees have great light with views of the lake and Millennium Park."

Square Footage: 52,000 square feet

Favorite hangouts in and around the office: "In the office, the rooftop because it's AMAZING; our Cafe — a central spot for all Cision employees to eat, refill coffee, play ping pong, have group meetings etc. You can find Cision employees all over Millennium Park when the weather is nice or grabbing an after work drink at Sweetwater or the Chicago Athletic Association."


“Our office space really embodies our culture and our brand,” said Katie Burgoon, EVP of Global HR. “At TT, we work to solve some very interesting and challenging problems, and we strive to outperform for our clients. In return, we wanted our space to be something our employees are proud of. Somewhere they were excited to walk into everyday. Our space has the features you might find in a comfy rec room or local watering hole, and we encourage sharing it with our industry networks, customers and friends.”
“Our design on each of our floors is meant to meet the needs of a dynamic, creative and diverse work family,” she added. “Our standing desks, pop-up meeting spaces and Tech Tap bar help foster ingenuity, collaboration and creativity. White board walls allow for designs and ideas to be captured on the fly. And being above Union Station is a huge plus for commuters.”
Square footage: 75,000 square feet
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: “‘The Tech Tap’ is TT’s version of Apple’s Genius Bar. An IT help desk by day and craft beer bar by late afternoon. There are eight taps with different craft beers on hand at all times. There are also two wine options for non-beer drinkers, plus iced tea and coffee throughout the day. We have an open kitchen, with daily breakfast food options such as bagels, fruit, cereal and oatmeal, a coffee machine, soda and other beverages and unlimited snacks such as popcorn, beef jerky, protein bars, chips, crackers and cookies. There are numerous collaborative spaces with chairs and tables to sit at as well. On top of all that is the TT game room, with table tennis, a pool table, shuffleboard, Golden Tee, video games, PacMan and pinball.”


“When SAP Fieldglass relocated to our new headquarters on Canal Street, we made it a top priority to create a space that embodies our company culture and cultivates an open workspace,” Rob Brimm, President, SAP Fieldglass. “With the changing dynamic of the traditional office and the technology innovations that have allowed employees the flexibility to work remotely, our goal was to create an environment that inspires our employees in every way. I’ve talked to so many people that have said many times they would rather come into the office even when given the option to work from home. That was our number one goal and I’m excited that we’ve achieved that. Of course, the porch swings, beer garden happy hours and shark tank-inspired conference rooms don’t hurt either.” 

Office square footage: 58,000 square feet 
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: “Hammock rooms, and our kitchen has a gaming corner where people take breaks playing Mario Kart. The beer garden in our office has board games, a bags set and a nice place for everyone to come together and mingle, and a favorite lunch spot is the French Market.”
“The VISANOW space was designed to be reflective of our business — transparent and collaborative — and to ensure the well-being of our employees so they can continue to provide an extraordinary level of service to help individuals grow, businesses succeed and families reconnect,” said Dick Burke, president and CEO of VISANOW.
Square footage: approximately 30,000 square feet
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: “The VISANOW café for catered lunches, food trucks, Rustle+Roux, Stocks and Blondes.”

"While we are headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, our office in Chicago is a true extension of the Frontline culture and a vital part of our productivity in client services and development,” said CEO Tim Clifford. “Our core values are integrated into the office space and our Chicago team will carry them out daily as they work to enhance the Frontline client and solution experience.”
Square footage: Just over 12,000 square feet
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: "The food trucks at Wacker and Adams will most likely become a favorite lunch spot. While we have only been in the new space for a few weeks, we are actively looking for recommendations on great places to grab lunch or head out to unwind after work. The office is located two blocks east of the Chicago River, one mile west of Lake Michigan and we are looking forward to exploring the areas surrounding the new space. We have been in move mode and trying to keep up momentum so there hasn’t been a lot of time to gather, but our kitchen — complete with Ping Pong table (the National Frontline pastime) — will be a place to gather once we get settled."

"The CraftJack office was designed to embody the essence of our business, created with spaces sympathetic to the concept of home improvement,” said Noah Mishkin, VP of Operations. “Our open-office layout encourages collaboration and meaningful communication. Enjoyable office culture is just as important to us as the exciting services we continue to develop." 
Square footage: 4,200 square feet
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: “We love getting team games going on Foosball and Pop-A-Shot. Great food is found down the street from surrounding restaurants like the Firehouse Grill, and SIAM Paragon, and we enjoy the Sketchbook tap room located just downstairs from our office for great locally brewed beer.”
"Collaboration is at the center of everything we do at Origami Risk, and our new office space is a reflection of that," said Bob Petrie, CEO. "The open floor plan, expansive lunch area, and variety of work spaces facilitate a friendly and interactive work environment. We designed the space with the intention of giving our employees open access to one another, to leadership and to customers, in order to encourage productivity and innovation."
Square footage: 11,472 square feet 
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: 
Lunch Room: From taco Tuesdays to brown bag lunches, a large number of employees can gather in this space to share a meal or a cup of coffee and talk about work or their personal lives. 
Highline Bar and Lounge: Employees might find themselves across the street from the Merchandise Mart at this local watering hole for impromptu happy hours and get togethers. 
Gilt Bar: Good craft cocktails and beer, tasty apps, and outdoor seating in the summer.
“Safe to say many people don’t love their office — few windows, cubicles, low ceilings — not true for the closerlook team. We love our space. We’re in an exposed brick, loft in River North and have been in this location for many years. We expanded to two floors a couple years ago to accommodate growth and our primary concern with redesigning the space was the physical separation of staff that moving into two floors would demand. Our staff culture and work output is dependent on an environment that encourages collaboration, so it was vital that our new office support how we operate best,” said Joanna Kontoudakis, closerlook’s director of human resources.
“The centerpiece of the redesigned office is a monumental stair connecting the two floors, with the office’s primary public areas around it — including a large space that can comfortably accommodate 150 staff members for all-company meetings,” she added. “Throughout the office we have open seating for the staff (no cubes here!) with plenty of options for small group gatherings in new meeting rooms and opportunities to reinforce creativity in our work across all our competencies.”
Square footage: 25,000
Favorite hangouts in and around the office: “We meet up on Friday afternoons for Beer O’Clock, our weekly happy hour in the office. Neighborhood favorites include Brehon, Franklin Room and Headquarters Beercade. Bernie’s is a new favorite and our annual summer party is held at Castaways. Not a neighborhood spot but worth the hike!”
Photos via featured companies.

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