Heading to the office has never been so fun
Irish companies splashing out on colourful, creative workspaces, reports Roisin Burke
From the obvious (Google) to the unexpected (Ryanair), several Irish companies have workplaces that are absolutely awesome in their fabulousness.
Yes, you heard us right. Ryanair. The airline is the latest addition to the Coolest Office in Dublin list. While someone continues to detain the real Michael O'Leary in a cellar somewhere and his touchy-feely cyborg imposter rules in his stead, the formerly few-frills-for-staff airline launched its new €16m (£13m) ubercool offices on Thursday. They're in Swords, though – but still.
There's a cocktail bar, a slide, a pool table and pinball machines; all installed to appeal to the tech talent it wants to hire as it reinvents its digital business. There's also, for some reason, a life-size chess board. But brilliantly, there's a foosball table. And Xbox 360 arcades. Ryanair will have been at least partly inspired by the original creator of the cool office – Google. The search giant's massive campus in the heart of Dublin's tech Nirvana off Grand Canal Quay has five free restaurants as well as games rooms, a fitness centre, a swimming pool and 'wellness areas'. But best of all, there's a pub with free beer.
There's also swings, a slide and Segways for zipping around. Office spaces have names like Clown College, Funland and Bouncing Castle.
The 14 floors of Google Docks main building have different Google themes and decor that's either a riot of inspiring colour or a Blade-Runneresque dystopian nightmare – depending on your point of view.
There's level Search, where staff can hang out and hack, the 'Appiness floor for testing new Google Apps, the Be Green, an eco-inspired level fully carpeted in a layer of grass and strewn with plants and bark-faced wallpaper and a veg-out @Home level.
It's maybe a teeny bit poignant to have a work-based 'home' area. Does that mean Googlers rarely go home? But, oh, Google, you had us at the free food and beer...
Airbnb, the online service that can turn a home into a boutique hotel, says it picked Dublin as its European HQ because Dublin has "hospitality in its DNA". Nothing to do with tax.
Like Google, its new offices also riff on an Irish pub theme in one part, with its reception area at its Heneghan Peng-designed new Ringsend home featuring a horseshoe-shaped bar. And some old 'Irish Telefon' booths.
The building has funky meeting 'pods' inspired by Airbnb listings around the world.
Not to be found wanting, indigenous Irish fintech company, Realex, has vast white-walled offices round the corner from Google with rugged Burren-themed decor.
There are big prints depicting Irish scenes and the O'Connor's bar staff hangout area is modelled on the real O'Connor's in Doolin. There are special geek brainstorm spaces designed to look like Irish fairy ring forts on the outside but coated with wipeable 'smart paint' inside, where you'll find huddles of hipster geeks holding markers and poring over codes. And there are plenty of free nights out on the beer.
Meals and snacks at Facebook Ireland's wood-themed canteen are, of course, free, and there's a rooftop hangout spot with panoramic views of the city, and where bands such as BellX1 have played. And there's a big white wall for graffiti. In our office here, we've been craning out the windows to snoop at the offices of our new neighbours, Irish Water, who are moving into newly done-up quarters right next door. Included in the plans is a staff gym, no doubt to keep top brass lean, in contrast to their rather bloated salaries.
Hope they stay hydrated over there.