In the era of The Office, it’s become commonplace for companies to claim a “flat corporate structure” or an “open-door policy” that allows mailroom clerks to drop in on the CEO. Heck, even Wal-Mart calls its employees “team members.”
So who’s really advancing the anticubicle movement? Some of the country’s top boutique advertising and marketing firms. Fuse (#26 on our list), which manages accounts for New Balance, Gatorade, and Mountain Dew, moved into a renovated wool mill in Burlington, Vermont, two years ago. Inside the 10,000-square-foot space, dogs roam freely, brick walls are decorated with edgy art pieces, and the rec area features a 20-foot ceiling—to accommodate the halfpipe. Rapper Biz Markie played the ten-year anniversary party. Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners (#19) funds kayak rentals at the beach out its front door on an alcove of San Francisco Bay and hosts a summer concert series. Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch (#39) and Colle + McVoy (#10) open their doors to pets, bikes, and massage therapists (both subsidize weekly treatments), throw rowdy parties on their roof decks (costumes, Slip ’n Slides, talent shows), and offer loaner bikes for local errands. The open layout at Colle + McVoy “is a metaphor for our culture,” says CEO Christine Fruechte. “There are no limits or barriers to the active mind and active body.”
Still, the ad folks haven’t cornered the market on offbeat fun. Employees at insole-maker Superfeet (#6) blow off steam with tricycle races, hula-hoop contests, super-soaker fights, and similar eruptions of absurdity. “We encourage horseplay, practical jokes, and other occasional wastes of company time,” says one executive assistant.