Img: Expedia 
Expedia has been named as the best employer in the UK for work/life balance once again, having previously held the title back in 2015. The online travel company excelled above big names like Google and Unilever to be named the best by their employees through Glassdoor’s anonymous rate-and-review service.

For a company to achieve this status twice in the space of a few years, they’ve got to be doing something great, and just by taking a look at how their office is designed it’s clear to why this is the case. Across Expedia’s two offices by London’s Angel tube station there’s an abundance of space intended for rest and relaxation just as much as there is for work.

The reception area is decorated with photos from employee holidays that everyone is able to take thanks to generous travel allowances of up to £10,000 a year provided by the company. Expedia’s insistence on leaving the office and having adventures is already a strong indicator of the interest they have in promoting the importance of life outside of the job and how that can positively impact what is achieved in the workplace.

Elsewhere, the element of fun is promoted through the presence of games systems and ping pong tables. The company even has Formula One simulators that are run through the gaming platform Steam and use prototype cars designed with Expedia’s brand. These areas aren’t closed off from the rest of the office and are integrated into the open plan workspace, showing they’re as vital to the staff as all the computers dotted around. These rest areas aren’t too central to the workspace to avoid becoming a distraction, but they’re close enough that employees can still feel as though they’re integrated in the office environment.

“What we try and encourage here at Expedia is to make it feel like we’re big kids in a big kids sandbox,” Liz Estaugh, director of tech, said of her company’s emphasis on fun in the workplace. Con Marney, talent advisor, adds that “you are allowed downtime; you’re not there chained to your desk for 10 hours a day”.

Img: Expedia 
One of the Expedia office’s strongest features is its rooftop terrace which encourages collaboration and socialisation both in and out of work hours. The outdoor space provides employees with somewhere healthy to spend their time, whether they’re looking to clear their head on a short break, discuss ideas with colleagues or enjoy a post-work drink. The company is fairly supportive of drinking with designated cocktail and beer hours to bring some cheer to the staff.

 “Every single month we have Thursday-night drinks, where the whole company comes together from 5pm to about 8:30pm – or whenever the booze runs out, whatever’s quickest. That always acts as a really great platform for conversations,” Marney explains.

With all these incentives, it’s no surprise that Expedia’s office has become so popular with employees. These features come as a boost given the global company has its share of challenges, namely being available for people throughout the day, even outside of work hours. Thankfully, with the office boasting a very vibrant and creative environment, being on the job doesn’t feel like a drag.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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