CannonDesign Creates a Collaborative Office for Upwork in Downtown Chicago

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A greenery-filled wooden installation greets visitors upon their arrival to the office. Photography by Patsy McEnroe.

A greenery-filled wooden installation greets visitors upon their arrival to the office. Photography by Patsy McEnroe.

Upwork, a web platform that connects freelancers of all skills to jobs of all kinds, is all about collaboration. And the Chicago team’s new downtown office in the western portion of the Loop is designed with that in mind. “Upwork was looking for an open office environment that was unobstructed so that the teams could collaborate and feed off each other’s energy,” shares Emily Stampanato, a designer at CannonDesign. “Employees have no choice but to be seen and heard in the open, communal areas,” she adds.

The design team integrated wood as well as softer materials throughout to create a warm and inviting environment. Photography by Laura Peters. 

Working closely with Kelsi Rohrmann, senior manager of employee enablement at Upwork, the final design features personal details courtesy of the company’s employees. The Chicago team’s previous office was in a loft so to reimagine beloved aspects of that environment, the new office features panoramic views of the city with high ceilings and biophilic elements throughout. Upwork also hosted an internal social media contest where photos and quotes representative of its mission were submitted and, ultimately, turned into graphics featured on the doors of conference rooms.

A variety of seating options are available in The Hive. Photography by Patsy McEnroe. 

A central feature of the Upwork Chicago office is a multipurpose space dubbed “The Hive,” which, as Rohrmann explains, is “where all the buzz is really happening.” Adding to the area’s namesake, a series of hexagonal lighting and acoustic felt tiles span the ceiling. Used for formal gatherings and everyday lunches, the ceiling system ensures no matter where someone is in the space, they are intimately connected with their peers. Overall, the energy from the bustling streets of Chicago and the connectedness of Upwork are translated into an office that allows workers to find a spot that suits them. 

Hexagonal lighting pairs with acoustic felt tiles. Photography by Patsy McEnroe. 
The words circled on the wall were selected from the company’s social media contest. Photography by Laura Peters.
Individual meeting rooms—each with their own graphic accent wall—are spread out across the working section of the office. Photography by Laura Peters. 

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