Google the Great: What You Can Learn from the Best Place to Work

19th January 2015
Googleplex

Working for Google has become synonymous with fun, creativity and exciting environments, with each of their offices full of quirky designs and employee perks. We take a look at why Google is still voted the best place to work and why employee freedom inspires productivity.

Office Environment
The Google head office in Mountain View, California has become well known as the office with a difference. Gone is the everlasting sea of matching desks and computers, gone is the harsh artificial lighting and lack of natural sunlight and gone is the cramped cafeteria serving old and unhealthy food. Google has taken the worst parts of office work and turned them on their head.

Google employees, affectionately known as Googlers, work in a free and creative atmosphere. Everything from the colours of the walls to the placement of the desks has been analysed in order to offer the employee comfort and encouragement to achieve their work goals. Each office around the world is decorated in line with the city and country it is in – for instance, the New York office has a conference room decorated like a retro Manhattan apartment, and the hallway floors come complete with a subway grate and classic NYC-style fire hydrant. Staff are encouraged to be aware of their inner child and let it thrive, with slides that take Googlers to lower floors and ladders to go up a level. Employees can get around on scooters and there are numerous ‘chill-out’ rooms, some hidden behind secret bookcases. Googlers can find new and interesting aspects of their office every day, inspiring them to discover and create more.

Working Practices
One of the main aims of Google’s employee ethos is helping workers enjoy their jobs. Some are allowed to design their own desks, some can choose to come to work in pyjamas or even bring their dog. Many of the Google offices offer on-site medical care, gyms and game rooms, basketball courts and sleep pods if the day is getting too much. Employees are also given the chance to dedicate 20% of their work week to something they truly enjoy, which could be staying home and working on a Google-goal, or helping out with another project in a different sector of the company.

Giving employees more control over their working week offers them the chance to achieve their own goals whilst still being in line with those of the company. If they are struggling with something, they can head to the gym and work out while they think of a new idea. Or if they have that niggling hunger, they don’t need to wait until lunch as Google says no employee should be more than 150ft away from food at any time. Top chefs are on board to offer healthy snacks and meals to keep the brain active and the stomach happy.

Whereas some may believe this kind of freedom would make workers lazier or less willing stick to the work in favour of shooting some hoops on the basketball court, it seems to do just the opposite. Goolgers are grateful for the trust the company has in them and also thankful for the perks, which many are aware aren't on offer at most companies. The freedom they enjoy extends itself to their personal lives as well; Google offers a comprehensive health and dental plan as well as maternity and paternity leave at full pay. They can also help employees looking to adopt a child and offer financial help to those who wish to further their education as part of the company.

Lessons to Learn
It should be said that many businesses do not have the income to support the kind of on and off-site benefits Google offers, however there are some methods that can be easily implemented within smaller companies. Offering staff opportunities to relax and work demonstrates that their personal wellbeing is equally as important as the work-based goals they are set.

Try arranging staff bonding sessions during work hours, so staff have the chance to take a break without feeling that they are giving up valuable personal time in order to further their job performance. Financial incentives can of course help productivity, but the main way to raise morale and ensure a contented work team, is to offer people control over the work they do and the hours in which they do it. Employees do not want to work to the same monotonous rules, driven solely by profit and goals, they are in fact more likely to work to their own talents and times.

So – is it goodbye for good to strict and somewhat antiquated working rules and hello to the personal touch? It looks like it could be.

*Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Googleplex_Pride_Logo.jpg

"Offering staff opportunities to relax and work demonstrates that their personal wellbeing is equally as important as the work-based goals they are set."