The Top 11 Innovative Workplace Stories Of 2013

Do you like working from home? Do you like open offices? The debate raged this year about what makes workers happiest–and the best workers. Just be glad this scary rolling conference room isn’t where you have your meetings.


This year was all about turning traditional office models on their head–and occasionally, bringing them back to basics. Chairigami made headlines for its office furniture made completely out of cardboard, no assembly required. Meanwhile, Seattle’s Bullitt Center, dubbed the greenest office building the world, finally opened, and an office building in Tokyo began growing 200 species of fruit, rice and vegetables on its roof.


For many years, employers have championed the space-saving and cost-cutting open office, but we’re finally starting to see backlash–and even research proving that people don’t like them. Maybe telepresence is the way to go. Or maybe, as Yahoo seems to think, it’s the exact wrong move.

In the end, it’s clear that employers have a lot of work to do in creating comfortable work environments for their employees. Read on to hear how.

1: How To Find Out Whether You’re A Good Cultural Fit At Any Company

Want a work environment that makes you happy? Want employees that are happy to work for you? Good.Co is taking the guess work out of the hiring process by measuring exactly how we like to work.

2: Could This Cardboard Furniture Replace Your Ikea Chairs And Bookshelves?


Chairigami’s furniture is made from recycled cardboard and there’s no assembly required: They don’t use any glue or fasteners.

3: The Greenest Office Building In The World Is About To Open In Seattle

The Bullitt Center is made from totally clean materials, has composting toilets, and catches enough rainwater to survive a 100-day drought. And it’s 100% solar-powered, in a city not known for its sunny days.

4: You’re Not Alone: Most People Hate Open Offices

People in cubicles and open offices long for privacy and probably get less work done. That this is surprising at all speaks to the current trendiness of open layouts.


5: The Future of Work: Quantified Employees, Pop-Up Workplaces, And More Telepresence

Take a look at the ways we can make our offices friendlier, healthier, and more efficient.

6: The 30-Hour Work Week Is Here (If You Want It)

A reduced workweek would be healthier for your sanity–and our economy.

7: Yahoo Says That Killing Working From Home Is Turning Out Perfectly


After receiving tons of heat for taking away workers’ remote privileges, Yahoo now says that things are working just as planned: engagement and productivity are up.

8: The “Bullshit Jobs” That Keep You From A Four-Hour Workday

A reality check suggested by one of Occupy Wall Street’s founding figures: we all spend too much time on useless “bullshit jobs” to get real work done.

9: Find A Free Desk In Someone’s Office, And Feel More Creative

Combining interesting freelancers with established companies can result in collaborative experiences no one would have imagined.


10:Think Your Meetings Are Bad? Wait Until You See Your New Conference Room

Just try collaborating in this terrifying meeting space at a Cold War-era airbase.

11: These Office Workers Can Tend Crops While They’re In Boring Meetings

A building in Tokyo that has 200 species of rice, fruits, and veggies may have reached new levels in the craze to “green” the office.

Read more of our best stories of the year in these categories: Top stories, infographics, photography, maps, buildings, design, cities, food, transportation, innovative workplaces, bikes, collaborative consumption, energy, crowdfunding, robots, environment, health, education

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more