chapter  5
Corporate Parks: Usurping Leisure Terrains for Digital Labor
Pages 29

Work defi nes us. Play liberates us from these defi nitions. This conventional wisdom is continuously readdressed as our meaning for both work and play transforms over time. Every society is driven by a vision of social life and, intrinsic to this template, lays the intertwined architectures of labor and leisure. For instance, workspaces have undergone a tremendous change as employers have evolved in their understanding of what counts as productivity. In this innovation obsessed economy, the common wisdom among many companies is that to attract the best talent, a new corporate culture is needed, sensitized to the workers’ larger well-being. Some companies are focusing on the very space within which such talent can be nurtured-the ‘offi ce.’ The typical gray cubicle infrastructure is making way for a diff erent work environment. Pool tables, volleyball courts, video game parlors, pianos, Ping-Pong tables, and yoga stations are becoming a signature of these new labor landscapes (Kjerulf, 2007). Bicycles, scooters, and slides enable employee movement. Play is infused in the design and shaping of the reception area and boardrooms. The individual company gives way to an ecology of corporations situated in park spaces, resembling a university campus (Daskalaki, Starab & Imasa, 2008). From the cubicle to the hammock, there appears to be a shift in perception among some key companies on what counts as a productive space in today’s business market. It

isn’t surprising that creative and technology industries like Pixar, Apple, and Google have embraced the re-architecting of their corporate settings to resemble play spaces (Chang, 2006). Innovation is their business: It is believed that the less regulating, confi ning, and spatially predictable a work environment is, the more likely it will be to generate new ideas and enhance performance. These corporate parks share more with the ethos of public parks than with the signature offi ce, simulating a place that is relatively free from typical business routines and least marked by institutional practice.