Great views, great vibes: What employees love about 5 Chicago tech offices

by Alton Zenon III
January 9, 2019

When your office is designed with collaboration and camaraderie in mind, it becomes so much easier to actually facilitate those things on a daily basis. To learn more about how intentional design drives culture, we peeked inside the offices of five Chicago tech companies, hearing from their leadership about what went into their design — and what their teams love most about them on a day-to-day basis. 

 

FourKites staff shown working in wide office shot
Image via FourKites, Inc.
FourKites cafeteria area
Image via FourKites, Inc.
FourKites walking treadmill desks
Image via FourKites, Inc.
Wide shot of FourKites office
Image via FourKites, Inc.

FourKites uses predictive analytics and data from GPS-connected devices to help Fortune 500 and third-party logistics companies track and manage their shipping logistics around the world. HR Manager Sara Simmons said the company chose its space because of its ample collaboration areas.

Where they do it: 500 W. Madison St (West Loop)

Square footage: 37,000

 

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

We took over the Grainger space, so luckily it was move-in ready for the most part. However, we were drawn to the space because it accommodates our growth and there is a significant amount of meeting and call rooms, which supports our employees’ need for collaboration areas. The building itself provides a lot of amenities and perks, including a gym and convenient access to restaurants and retail shops. And a bonus for our Metra riders  — it stops right in the building.

 

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

The space to accommodate multiple meetings, calls or interviews has been an improvement for our busy and growing teams. We also upgraded our technology to allow conveniences of accessing and creating meetings on the spot. The array of snacks, cold brew, and the popcorn machine in the kitchen are also frequented by our employees.

 

Solstice lobby with robot next to front desk
IMAGE VIA SOLSTICE
Hallway at Solstice with conference rooms pictured
IMAGE VIA SOLSTICE
Recreational area in Solstice office
IMAGE VIA SOLSTICE
Robot in Solstice office staring hauntingly into your soul
image via solstice

Solstice develops custom digital solutions for Fortune 500 companies that include IoT systems, mobile application development, product strategy and application refinement. Executive Assistant and Senior Office Manager Valerie Sokola said the key to Solstice’s office design was the ability to accommodate a wide range of working styles.

Where they do it: 111 N. Canal Street (West Loop)

Square footage: 60,000 

 

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

We wanted every space in our office to be truly functional and usable for our employees while also allowing the office to highlight our culture. We mixed open collaboration areas with bookable conference rooms, sit-to-stand desks and networking areas to give our employees a variety of choices for how and where they can work.

 

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

The café at the center of our office is definitely one of our employees’ favorite features. It is always bustling with activity. From conversations over coffee to meetups where we welcome people from around the city, Solstice thrives on the connections made between our employees, our clients and our community, and many of those begin in the café.

 

Staircase at IMC Trading
IMAGE VIA IMC Trading
Photo of IMC Trading office taken from inside conference room
IMAGE VIA IMC Trading
Outside of IMC Trading conference room
IMAGE VIA IMC Trading
Photo looking down from top of staircase at IMC Trading office
IMAGE VIA IMC Trading

IMC Trading is a technology-driven trading firm that operates on over 100 international, regulated trading platforms. Senior Project Manager Mike Katsiadas said the company’s biggest priority in its recent office redesign was to ensure that employees across floors could feel connected.

Where they do it: 233 S. Wacker Dr (The Loop)

Square footage: 79,377

 

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

The most important thing in redesigning our space was maintaining connectivity between our floors. This was emphasized with the sizable staircase. As we embark on another expansion project in 2019, this will still be top of mind.

 

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

Employees love the main kitchen and bar area. It’s an open area with great views where people relax and socialize. It’s also a great gathering space for us to host happy hours and parties.

 

Desk pod in Punchkick Interactive office
image via Punchkick Interactive
Slanted windows in Punchkick Interactive office
image via Punchkick Interactive
Work area in Punchkick Interactive office
image via Punchkick Interactive
Couches in Punchkick Interactive office
image via Punchkick Interactive

Punchkick Interactive develops mobile strategies, apps, responsive websites and software based on user research, agile UX design and business intelligence. In designing the company’s office, co-founder and CEO Zak Dabbas said making use of the location’s stunning vistas was a key priority.

Where they do it: 150 N. Michigan Ave (The Loop)

Square footage: 14,000

 

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

The most important thing was that we maximized views. We wanted an open and clean space with an effective user experience. We have glass for whiteboarding sessions and Apple TVs for easy screen sharing, and we avoid cables and clutter wherever possible. The overall aesthetic is very sleek and minimal. It’s important that our team members feel creative, inspired and focused on their work — not on stuff or polarizing design elements.

 

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

They love the two-story angled glass that greets you when you walk through the front door. It wraps around the entire side of the office. Our floor sits right at the widest part of the glass diamond that the Crain Communication Building is iconic for. Everyone who comes here loves the view. Even when it’s raining, the water looks beautiful on the glass. It’s a beautiful space that embraces this incredible city and the elements around it.

 

UPshow staff sitting on the couch with Colbie the Dog
image via upshow
UPshow logo in their office with staff pictured
IMAGE VIA Upshow
UPshow employee using cold brew machine in office
image via upshow

UPshow’s display technologies let locations ranging from fitness studios to restaurants and entertainment venues display social media content, games and entertainment, and digital signage to their guests. Co-founder and CMO Matt Gibbs said the company designed its office with comfort in mind, both for team members and their canine companions.

Where they do it: 160 N. Franklin (The Loop)

Square footage: 2,500

 

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

We wanted to evoke a creative and collaborative mindset, so the office is focused around building a variety of spaces to do so.

 

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

The entire front of our office is a loft-style area that is meant to feel like a modern apartment, complete with flat-screens, games, cold brew on tap and even pet beds for our canine employees. If someone needs a break from their desk, there are a variety of work spaces they can use to mix up the day. There’s also a boxing gym next door for employees who want to grab a quick workout during lunch.

 

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