FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A new corporate headquarters in Margate, Fla., gives a fresh dimension to the notion that business is a jungle.
Small monkeys swing from branches in their special habitat and macaws squawk as workers go about their business.
The center’s 600 employees also enjoy a koi pond, a putting green, a basketball court and, soon, a barbershop.
Built in a once-empty shopping center, the 100,000-square-foot office on Thursday became the new home for Saveology, a company that markets cable services, mobile phone, high-speed Internet and home service deals.
Chief Executive Benzion Aboud said he’s hoping the new headquarters will create a “fun” workplace and draw technology workers from other parts of the country.
“We want them to come to work and make this their second home,” Aboud said.
Google and other technology companies served as inspiration for Aboud and his business partner and childhood friend Reid Shapiro as they designed the environment.
The animals and other office features encourage people to interact and to “think outside the box,” Aboud said.
“You have something to do on breaks. Time goes faster,” said Diego Penaloza, 21, who has worked in sales for the company for two years.
An unusual office “can be effective,” said Amy Lyman, co-founder of Great Places to Work Institute, which compiles a “Best Places to Work For” list for Fortune magazine.
“It creates buzz,” said Lyman, who said she’s not familiar with any other office buildings that have exotic animals.
But workplaces must offer more than a unique office design to support a creative work culture, she said. Lyman cites companies such as SAS Institute in North Carolina and Ultimate Software in Weston, Fla., as examples of companies with cultures that let employees test new ideas.
But there’s a disconnect, she said, “if you come up with a creative idea and get jumped on for it.”
Aboud said workers are encouraged to meet and exchange ideas in the office atrium, which sports brightly colored furniture and gumball machines.
Some employees said that while they like the animals, the spacious size of the office and ample parking are their favorite features. The company was previously housed in two buildings in Fort Lauderdale, and parking was tight, workers said.
At work, Saveology employees answer calls from customers of consumer companies including Verizon Wireless, Radio Shack and Apartments.com. Aboud said the private company’s revenues grew by 20 percent in 2010-2011. He expects a 30 percent sales increase in 2012.
In the next three years, Saveology plans to add 700 workers in sales, marketing and advertising, and technology support. The pay ranges from $30,000 a year for sales to more than $70,000 for information technology positions.
As for the new headquarters, it was a “bargain,” said the chief executive. The company pays $50,000 a month for rent.
If Saveology hires the 700 workers, or more, it also will qualify for $2.3 million in job-creation and other economic incentives, he said.