Take a sneak peek at 7 of Chicago’s sleekest tech offices

by Michael Hines
October 24, 2018

For many Chicago tech companies, office design is an expression of culture. Everything from the floor plan to the names of conference rooms and awesome extra amenities — think communal kitchens and batting cages — serves as a reflection of the people who work there. With that in mind, we recently took a peek inside seven of the city’s slickest offices to learn more about what inspired their design, and the features employees love most.

 

Tribune Publishing Chicago office
PHOTOGRAPHY BY  Brian Cassella for the Chicago Tribune

Tribune Publishing Chicago office

Tribune Publishing Chicago office

Tribune Publishing Chicago office

What they do: Tribune Publishing is the media company behind newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, and many more. The company recently completed its move from Tribune Tower — which it moved into in 1925 — into a new space right across the street from Millennium Park.

 

Location: 160 N. Stetson Ave

Square footage: Over 115,000

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“Our new headquarters needed to offer bright and open spaces that promote and advance teamwork and collaboration,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Maya Bordeaux. “Our goal was to strike a balance and honor the legacy, tradition and rich history of the Chicago Tribune as well as the rapidly evolving digital era and our need to have a modern, sleek and technologically progressive work space. Our mission is to provide journalistic excellence, and we were committed to creating an environment that inspires innovation and creativity.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“Our new home has outstanding amenities, including an exterior deck that offers spectacular views and a state-of-the-art health club, and it’s centrally located, close to many restaurants and mass transit options,” said Bordeaux. “Employees also love the private workrooms, and the huddle areas with collaborative workspaces that allow for meetings in an open area. We’re honoring our journalistic roots by including tables made from old press plates, framed editorial cartoons and conference rooms named after our Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists.”

 

project44 Chicago office

project44 Chicago office

project44 Chicago office

project44 Chicago office

What they do: Logistics technology provider project44 helps companies better understand and streamline their shipping operations. The company offers solutions for planning and tracking shipments, document management, payment and analytics.

 

Location: Merchandise Mart

Square Footage: 42,298

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“The design of our office is centered on our core values and creating a space for meaningful collaboration,” said VP of People Jeanette Johnson. “We brought features from our old office, like the arcade and ping pong table, but our café is much bigger and brighter now, and people tend to congregate there and have fun. Our office has a healthy vibe to it, with adjustable standing desks, natural light, no harsh fluorescent light and plants that contribute to better air quality.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“During the warmer months, we have access to the Merchandise Mart’s rooftop, where we have a front-row seat to an incredible view of the city and river,” said Johnson. “Our teams work from the rooftop, entertain guests and sometimes have lunch or take a break there. There are also multiple ‘music on the roof’ events each year, where team members can enjoy a happy hour featuring live music. Our employees have really enjoyed it.”

 

RXBAR Chicago office

RXBAR Chicago office

RXBAR Chicago office

RXBAR Chicago office

What they do: If you’ve snacked in the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ve had one of RXBAR’s protein bars, which feature simple ingredients like egg whites, cashews and dates. In addition to protein bars, RXBAR also makes kids’ snack bars and nut butter spreads.

 

Location: 412 N. Wells

Square footage: 40,000

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“It’s important that our people enter an environment where they can be their full, authentic selves and do their best work,” said VP of People and Organization Leslie Joseph. “The open seating, bright wall colors and views of the city from all nine floors and rooftop allow for creativity, productivity and innovation to happen, while also feeling connected to the brand and the people who work here.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“Our office was designed with our values in mind,” said Joseph. “With something here for everyone — an outdoor space, on-site gym, standing desks and differentiating floor plans — it helps foster an inclusive environment where our team members can collaborate, learn and enjoy a glass of kombucha or cold brew from our taps throughout the office.”

 

Ansarada Chicago office
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALLISON WILLIAMS

Ansarada Chicago office

Ansarada Chicago office

What they do: Ansarada’s AI-powered platform enables companies to securely and more easily manage and share business-critical information used to facilitate mergers, IPOs, fundings and other major financial events.

 

Location: 215 W. Ohio

Square footage: 9,000

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“We wanted to make sure coming to work felt more like coming to a space that felt like, and had all the amenities of, home,” said Regional Head of Americas Peter Santis. “All of the nicest and coolest parts of our office are open to all to enjoy. There are no corner offices, but plenty of collaborative and quiet spaces.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“Along with one of Chicago’s best boutique gyms located in the same building — and available as an employee perk — having in-office laundry and a shower are highly utilized features,” said Santis.

 

Buildout Chicago office

Buildout Chicago office

Buildout Chicago office

Buildout Chicago office

What they do: Buildout’s cloud-based software is designed to give commercial real estate brokerages a single portal for managing their marketing efforts, listings and communications.

 

Location: 222 S. Riverside Plaza

Square footage: 17,000

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“Our office needed to feel like our team: collaborative, relaxed, flexible and vibrant,” said Branding Director Sonni Conway. “As much as our space is designed for us to work well, it’s also built to help us have a rounded experience with our 40 hours together each week. We have breakout spaces that feel like comfortable living rooms and a game area with video games, air hockey, pool and ping pong. Within one afternoon, you can see the same table used for a family-style lunch, a big brainstorm session, group training, puzzles and after-work drinks.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“All of our inside jokes have turned into decorations around the office,” said Conway. “We used the corn emoji so often in Slack that it became the theme of a conference room, and another room is designed around our co-founder Jason Tillery’s favorite hobby: taxidermy. It’s easy for each Buildoutian to see themselves in our space because each person is actively impacting its design every day.”

 

Litera Microsystems Chicago office

Litera Microsystems Chicago office

Litera Microsystems Chicago office

What they do: Litera Microsystems’ tech makes it easier for professionals in the legal, life sciences and corporate worlds to draft, edit and produce documents.

 

Location: 300 S. Riverside Plaza

Square footage: 12,850

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“We specifically designed the office so that everyone shares the same space,” said CEO Avaneesh Marwaha. “This goes along with our policy of transparency and encourages employees to collaborate with anyone, not just the members of their direct teams. We also put meeting rooms in the center of the office instead of along the windows. This brings in natural light and gives everyone a great view of downtown.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“Of course employees love the break area where they can recharge and play video games and ping pong, but another feature that does not go unrecognized are the live company updates that are on TV screens throughout the office,” said  Marwaha. “These reports keep employees in the loop with sales, product releases and customer satisfaction. They also display our top performers of the month and are filled with fun GIFs that employees can send to each other.”

 

OneSpan Chicago office

OneSpan Chicago office

OneSpan Chicago office

OneSpan Chicago office

What they do: OneSpan’s cybersecurity solutions help financial institutions and other organizations accelerate their digital transformations. Their offerings include tools for monitoring fraudulent transactions, mobile app security and risk analytics.

 

Location: 121 W. Wacker

Square footage: 14,000

 

What was the most important thing to you in designing the space?

“We purposefully built out a space that would increase interaction and collaboration without the typical open-office feel,” said CFO Mark Hoyt. “To achieve that, we tucked various seating areas and nooks among desks, and made all offices and meeting room walls glass.”

 

What feature of your office do employees love the most, and why?

“The kitchen is a consistent gathering place,” said Hoyt. “It has booths, benches at family-style tables, couches and lounge chairs, as well as an extended breakfast bar. Our team uses the area not just for meals but also for meetings, weekly happy hours and catching games on our two big-screen TVs. We also have a great view of Art on the Mart, access to a communal rooftop — with beehives — and a common space for competitive table tennis matches.”

 

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