When Hulu’s design team began work on its new headquarters in Los Angeles, it had a few major things to consider.
“We’re all about embracing fun. The facility needed to reflect that,” Jim O’Gorman, Hulu’s SVP of Talent and Organisation, said to Business Insider. “This is a meritocracy — everyone has the same desk and the same chair.”
Architecture firm Gensler worked with Hulu to design its new 90,000-square-foot space in Santa Monica. They moved in to the space last fall.
Employees got to vote on nearly every aspect of the design, from the style of chair they would get to the types of cereal that would be available in the kitchen.
It looks like they definitely had some fun along the way.
The Hulu team certainly likes puns. The entrance to the 'Hulubratory' grabs your attention as soon as you get off the elevator.
The waiting area is covered with hundreds of portraits of Hulu employees, or Hulugans, as they call themselves. When they start work, each Hulugan takes a fun but professional picture, using any prop they think best shows off their personality. Even CEO Mike Hopkins embraced the fun atmosphere of the workplace when he joined the team in October 2013. In his Hulu portrait, he posed throwing his suit in the trash.
Fun and entertainment were important considerations in the office design. The design team created four different game hubs in the office, each with their own personality. 'We really encourage people to play,' Lauren Nutall, Hulu's facilities, operations, and programs manager, told us. 'Work should be fun. Being here should be fun.'
All of the game rooms are soundproofed using studio glazing and double walls. 'You could really go nuts in here, and the people outside would never hear it,' Gensler associate designer Katie Buchanan Bjarke said. 'It really encourages people to take a break and have fun without having to worry that they will get in trouble.'
They put the game rooms in different corners of the office so that people would walk around and interact with people outside their teams. 'Because it's such a big place, people sometimes don't branch out from their neighborhoods,' Nutall said.
And of course, it wouldn't be a Southern California office without a surfboard. This one is kept by the ping pong table.
And everyone has the same chairs and desks, which can be adjusted from a normal seated position to a full-on standing desk. The design team brought in nearly 100 chairs for the Hulugans to try out, and they eventually chose these Herman Miller chairs as the winner. The operations team often has a professional ergonomist come in to make sure workers are seated in the correct position.
A fan of the company sent in this awesome poster they created. It's now hanging proudly on a wall in the office.
After doing extensive research on people's work habits, the team decided they needed to create a ratio of 1 conference room to every 6.7 people. These conference rooms near the reception area were named after famous TV locations, like the Peach Pit diner in '90210' and the Central Perk coffee shop in 'Friends.'
There's also this larger conference room, which has served a number of purposes -- some not related to work. A morning yoga class was held here recently, for example.
People can also hold meetings in this main common area, which can fit up to 450 people during all-hands events. It's a great place for Hulugans to hang out, eat lunch, or spend quality time together.
It's also where the main kitchen is located. The workplace experience team did a lot of research before deciding what products to buy and where to place them.
Hulugans take their breakfast seriously, so the team did a cereal survey. 'When this place becomes people's second home, those details become important,' O'Gorman said.
And in an effort to have employees make healthier food choices, they arranged the shelves so that the less nutritious snacks would be more difficult to reach. 'If they want a bunch of chocolate, it's still there,' Nutall said.
In a throwback to their startup days, they keep a few kegs of seasonal beer tapped in the kitchen. The Hulugans plan monthly events they call 'Wine Downs,' where they get together to catch up and meet new hires. They often make the newcomers wear green shirts and perform in funny skits.
Pranks are a huge part of Hulu culture. These Simpsons characters were a gift from FOX years ago, but now they're brought along as guests to any party Hulugans host or attend. They also got two large 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' figurines, which they keep in the women's bathrooms to surprise people.
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