In Silicon Beach, staying active is becoming part of the job
By Shanee Edwards
Morning commutes, email backlogs, long meetings and hours trapped behind a desk — sometimes it feels like office culture is a conspiracy by coffee industry tycoons who want to fill our energy voids with sugar and caffeine.
Coffee-Mate offers more than two dozen flavors of creamer because they know you’ll do anything to make that fourth cup of joe a little more appealing.
But the kind of businesses that thrive in creative office suites in and around Playa Vista are addressing employee needs for a pick-me-up in a much healthier way: encouraging physical activity as a regular part of the workday.
Belkin International, across the street from Playa Vista’s Central Park, has become the go-to brand for connectivity devices that improve how we experience technology in everyday life. It should come as no surprise that Belkin offers its employees ergonomic assessments to ensure healthy workstations, but there’s also a Pilates class every Thursday, free access to the pool at the CenterPointe Club, and special events like a 5k run/walk along the trail at Discovery Park.
Advertising agency TBWA Chiat\Day Los Angeles, located north of Jefferson Boulevard alongside Ballona Creek, integrated exercise into its office’s architectural design by including a basketball court. A popular perk for employees, the court has also hosted celebrities and athletes, though “when Shaq visited for a Reebok initiative he was quick to point out that the rim wasn’t quite at ‘regulation height,’” says PR Manager Jenna Hollmeyer.
Deutsch LA, in the former offices of Southern California Institute of Architecture at Jefferson and Beethoven Street, encourages work/life balance as a way to attract and retain talent.
“Our belief at Deutsch is that you can have a great career and a great life with us. That’s why we have bootcamp and yoga sessions during the summer. We offer free, healthy snacks and lunch. We take advantage of the great environment we have right here in Playa Vista by hosting paddle boarding sessions in the marina. And to celebrate our big holiday, the Super Bowl, we do a snow/ski day in the mountains the day after The Big Game,” says Deutsch LA President Kim Getty. “When it comes to talent, we believe that if you take care of us, we’ll do our best to take care of you.”
Lizzie Brown, who operates the marketing firm Kamala Collective out of the co-working community CTRL Collective (see our cover story on page 20), takes advantage of the free yoga classes for members.
“It gets us all in gear and balanced before we start the week,” says Brown.
CTRL Collective also has ping pong tables to get the blood and ideas flowing.
On the east end of Playa Vista’s Hercules Campus, advertising agency 72and Sunny takes advantage of being near the beach by championing surf culture. The company provides surfboard racks, hot showers, and “a culture that encourages people and gives them the freedom to do what they need to do to be happy,” says partner and Chief Strategy Officer Matt Jarvis.
Jarvis has even surfed with some of his clients, including team members from Sonos and Activision, and it’s never about showing off.
“The person having the most fun is always the winner,” he says.
On the other side of Campus Center Drive, YouTube Space L.A. maintains a fleet of bicycles for employees and visiting YouTube talent to get between their two buildings or for a quick trip to Whole Foods.
“It’s a good way to get exercise and helps to get to the other building a little bit quicker. Taking a bike is actually faster than driving a golf cart,” says YouTube Space LA events coordinator Bridget Humphrey.
“And the golf carts don’t have power steering,” adds Production Coordinator Lori Webster.
Even without the Silicon Beach perks, a day at the office should include at least some moving around. Expert tips include:
• Take Walking Meetings:
Obviously, this works best if the meeting only involves two or three people. But in Playa Vista, there’s rarely a day where you can’t comfortably spend some time outside.
• Wear an Activity Tracker: Fitbit, Jawbone Up bands and even some watches track your physical activity and report back through your smart phone. Wearing a tracker will reveal how much — or how little —you’re really moving during the day. (Hint: The more water you drink during the day, the more times you’ll have to trek to the bathroom.)
• Call a Meeting Recess: For every hour a meeting lasts, schedule a 10-minute recess to stand, stretch, jog in place, or roll your wrists and shoulders. It’s also a good time to refill your water bottle.
• Walk to Lunch: There are lots of new restaurants in Playa Vista. Make plans to visit a new one each week — and walk there. On other days, head to Central Park or Concert Park to enjoy some fresh air.
• Blast your Favorite Song: Once a day, take time to play your favorite Adele or Drake song through your headphones, go into the stairwell and shake your moneymaker. This is not only good for your body, but it’s also good way to relieve stress and lift your mood.