Work It! | Beyond the Cube: Best New Places to Work in Orange County

The 9-to-5 life has changed, and O.C. companies and people are leading the charge

The digital revolution, the Great Recession, and a younger generation with different expectations about work have changed the 9-to-5 life. O.C. companies and people are leading the charge, dreaming up surprising careers, and creating exciting new environments.


Advertising, 100 employees, Huntington Beach,
This one-time movie theater is now a bright industrial space, punctuated with lime, yellow, and red accents. White umbrellas hang upside down from the black ceiling. There’s a bleacher-style conference area, plus communal beach cruisers, a surfboard closet, and a world-class view of the ocean across the street.

Sock maker, 117 employees, San Clemente,
The company’s 22,000-square-foot building is made of reclaimed wood, glass, and steel. The look is eclectic and airy with amazing artwork at every turn. Designed by Stance’s Chief Creative Officer Aaron Hennings, and opened in 2014, the complex has a full-sized basketball court, employee gym—with a personal trainer—a skate bowl, yoga platform, and golf simulator. The original artwork was created by Stance’s “Punks & Poets” artist partners, including Brian Bent, Kid Creature, Rose Ashton, and Brooke Reidt. The basketball court features a large wall mural by Zio Ziegler.

Tech, 250 employees, Irvine,
The local office for the online home design site opened in 2014 with more than 55,000 square feet; this year it added a second floor with another 40,000. The open workspace is wide and bright; there’s faux grass in the “picnic” meeting area. Around the perimeter are 20 themed meeting sites—the “wine room” looks like a wine cellar. Houzz employees decorate using furniture from vendors. Stairs and a slide connect the first and second floors, but even more striking are the 8-foot, hollow letters H-o-u-z-z that run down the center of the place. Seating and tables are tucked inside them.

Activewear, 250 employees, Costa Mesa,
Fun reigns in this maze of industrial metal desks and wood-framed cubicles. Employee and commissioned artwork decorates the tunnel-shaped hallways; communal skateboards line the walls so employees can zip from office to office on Volcom’s concrete floors. Free quarterly massages, flexible work hours (if the surf’s up, come in late), catered meals, half-days on Fridays during the summer, yoga Tuesdays, and lunchtime boot camps keep employees healthy and happy. An awesome company store keeps them well dressed.

Action sport clothing, 600 employees, Huntington Beach,
Employees call this onetime warehouse the Death Star—the “center circle” lounge is surrounded by top management offices, then cubes and offices extend outward. Folks skateboard throughout, and employees of the year receive white gold and diamond rings.

Edwards LifeSciences
Medical devices, 3,000 employees, Irvine,
Edwards offers a complete wellness program. Outdoor meetings and fitness activities happen in the new 3.8-acre Central Park. After 20 years, employees get five weeks of vacation, plus everyone is off between Christmas and New Year’s.

Activewear, 280 employees, Irvine,
The new corporate office has white cubicles with yellow and blue accents. Notable features include original artworks made from Asics’s shoes, the gym, juice bar, treadmill desks, and coffee stations spread throughout.

[Pacific Investment Management Co.] International investment firm, 800 employees, Newport Beach,
The new, 20-story headquarters, designed by Henry Cobb of New York-based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has a two-story conference room with stadium seating for large meetings; a vertical stock-market ticker on the trading floors; a TV studio; and an elegant cream-colored cafeteria with an ocean view.

Urban Decay
Cosmetics, 460 employees, Newport Beach,
The company’s headquarters flaunts its bold signature colors—purple and silver—and scrollwork design. It has tricked-out bathrooms, a vegetable garden, a dog-friendly policy, and yoga classes.

Engineering/Sales, more than 600 employees, Irvine,
The tech giant opened a 91,000-square-foot office with a beach design in June 2014. Cruiser cycles are scattered throughout, and a lifeguard station sits on the roof deck. Clear-acrylic walls wired with LED displays surround a central staircase, and there’s the free food and workout facilities for which Google is known.

Fox Head
Athletic apparel, 180 employees, Irvine,
The Fox Head headquarters beckons with its park-like outdoor landscaping. Inside is a visual feast: zebra-striped walls, red-glass conference rooms, a mini-moto track, as well as yoga and boot camp classes held in the garden area.

Eyewear/Activewear, 2,400 to 2,900 employees, Foothill Ranch,
A company legendary for its awesome HQ design, Oakley’s address is 1 Icon. The 525,000-square-foot facility has catacombs of research and proving labs plus an on-site gym, retail store, an amphitheater, a BMX track, and lobby chairs that were ejection seats from fighter jets. Employees describe a laid-back vibe.

Really Cool O.C. Jobs

These folks like to go to work.

Lead Game Designer
Be the creative genius who envisions the technology, artistry, and playful experience of the next game at Amazon Games, Blizzard Entertainment, or one of the 40 other video-gaming companies with offices here.

Menu Readiness Team
Get paid to eat. You’re helping oversee preparation and tasting of new Taco Bell foods and visiting local restaurants to make sure meals are consistent and delicious at each venue.

Penetration Tester
This person is the 21st-century superhero, working at companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, and Masterson Technology, Inc. The idea is to hack into computer systems to find weaknesses and help prevent cyberattacks.

Animal Care Technician
The folks at Laguna Beach’s Pacific Marine Mammal Center rescue sick and wounded animals and nurse them back to health. Their reward? Watching the recovered sea lions rushing back toward the waves.

Scary-Maze Maker
The Design Specialist spends days—and some nights—coming up with the tricky mazes, horrifying settings, and menacing creatures for Knott’s Berry Farm’s annual Knott’s Scary Farm.

Got Job Skills?

Advice from Natasha Rhodes, senior editor at Costa Mesa-based

Basics At the very least, be proficient with Outlook Express and Microsoft Office suites, including Excel. If you’re behind the times or a technophobe, take an adult-education course.

The New Basics In the IT and tech sectors, even non-coding positions now require basic knowledge of web design and programming languages CSS and HTML.

Social Media There’s no escaping social media. Recruiters often review a candidate’s social media profiles before making a hiring decision. LinkedIn remains the No. 1 site for hiring, so if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one.

Infographic Resumes An infographic resume allows you to highlight your skills in a modern and attention-grabbing format. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

The O.C. Benefits Package

Where to find some fabulous perks

Spireon has fitness classes. Volcom has a competition-worthy skate park. Anaheim Ducks employees get free acupuncture and monthly massages.

Fluidmaster has given bread, butter, and milk to employees since 1957. Passport Agency has an open tab at the Common Room coffee shop. Blind Squirrel has a fully stocked kitchen.

Squar Milner has taken the entire firm on trips to Puerto Vallarta and Miami. I5 Publishing allows dogs at work—as does Orange Coast!

Irvine Company and offer onsite car washes. Disneyland salaried employees get onsite child care and can admit unlimited numbers of friends into the park.

The game rooms at MediaMix365 have ping-pong, pool, and pinball, while Reloaded Games has retro computer and board games. Vestal hosts a weekend party at Coachella.

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