This Office Has a Bar -- But Staff Don't Go There Just to Drink

Casual collaboration spots boost office creativity.
This Office Has a Bar -- But Staff Don't Go There Just to Drink
Image credit: Adam Friedberg
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This story appears in the March 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It’s 10 a.m. on a Wednesday at Diageo, one of the world’s largest producers of spirits (and owner of brands such as Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Guinness and Smirnoff). Dozens of its 150 Manhattan-based employees are clustered around the office bar, adjacent to the entrance of the company’s 56,000-square-foot office. But they’re not here to drink -- even people who work for booze companies have their limits. (Alcohol is primarily served at night during events and employee happy hours.) Instead, by day, the bar becomes a casual meeting point.

Related: How to Create a Productive Office Space

Monté Burrow

Brand Director, U.S. and Global, Seagram’s 7 

“At a meeting I had the other day, the bartender served up fresh grapefruit juice, and it just changed the tone of the conversation entirely. When you think about fresh-squeezed juice, you don’t associate it with an office.” 

Margaret Lu

Director and Senior Counsel, Consumer Marketing, Digital and Privacy

“It’s more like your own personal café. You can grab a table by the window, there’s usually jazz in the background -- you’re working but not isolated, so you’re not inaccessible. I love that café culture.”

Eugene Khabensky

Director, Diageo Futures

“The bar space is our central nexus, a unique spot that a lot of other offices don’t have. We have great bartenders who are always on the cutting edge, trying out new drinks.”

Related: This Company Set Up an Amazing Office Inside a Historic Victorian Castle

Rodolfo "Rudy" Aldana

Director, Tequila Reserve

“If you were to do a heat map, you’d see people here don’t spend much time at their desks. There’s a lot of movement, and that fluidity facilitates a lot of dynamism. And a lot of people end up at the bar.”

Jiby Banerji

Manager, Alliances and Emerging Media

“Our tagline is ‘Celebrating life every day, everywhere,’ and we really feel that in the office. You can hear what’s going on -- it’s bright, it’s vibrant, there’s a lot of laughter. I don’t think you can even find that in a ton of bars in New York, let alone offices.”

Dorothy Devenecia

Senior Brand Manager, Incubator Brands

“Creative triggers are everywhere: bottles at the bar or our advertisements on the walls. Plus, I don’t have to walk more than 10 steps to talk to whoever I need to get something done.”

Related: How Squarespace Designed a Sophisticated Headquarters Where Grownups Get Things Done

Keenan Towns

Brand Management

“Aside from being the largest spirits company in the world, Diageo spends lots of time and effort grooming and growing people. Coming here is like going to business school all over again.”

Claire Hadden

VP Innovation, North American Whiskey, Reserve, Scotch and Incubator

“I spend maybe 5 percent of my day alone; the rest is spent interacting with my team and collaborating with my colleagues.”

 

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