If you ever saw The Internship back in 2013 — the American comedy which placed Owen Wilson in the role of an unqualified Google intern — you’ll remember seeing that the Google offices were full of colour. The movie often pointed out how quirky the offices are and whilst the film wasn’t actually filmed at Google, they’re not wrong.
Google has been leading the way when it comes to zany office designs for a while now, along with a couple other big names in tech. Though, just because they look cool, doesn’t mean we should all follow in their footsteps. The Google offices are fantastic at assisting their personal brand, improving employee retention, and getting people excited to work but all office designs have trade-offs. Google might have boosted employee collaboration when they tore down their walls into the ultimate open office, but at the risk of hindered work performance. They’re abundance of vibrate art instillations may have increased creativity in the workplace, but at the risk of distracting employees. These trade-offs might seem worth it for Google where innovation is key to stay ahead, but in other industries these costs are too high and the urge to stick to the comfort of white-walled cubicle desks comes creeping back in.
Yet we don’t have to be one or the other. Here are some elements of the Google office’s that you can start implementing now, without needing to get a slip-and-slide installed.
The Google offices are packed with vibrant yellows, purples, reds, and greens, but for your office? That might be a bit much, not to mention experts in interior design considering this interior style inefficient. Having a feature wall painted could be the happy medium you’re looking for; it will work to liven your workspace without the distraction.
If you haven’t already been thinking about incorporating greenery into your office then you’re a step behind the curb. This is one of the easier ways that your office can match up with Googles. Google offices have greenery all around the place, along with Apple and Amazon. Add in a house plant or two and decrease your employees’ tension and fatigue.
Break Room Activities
Take your break room to the next level by providing employees with something to do. Setting up multiplayer games like chess, board games, or foosball can help your employees to bond in a fun and relaxed way (instead of trying to force it later on in a rigorous team building exercise). By providing break activities your office space facilitates team building and strengthens your core team, even when not on the clock.
A close up of two employees playing chess
Google employees playing Foosball in the Moscow office: Image by Evgeny Luchin via Archilovers
At Google they’re big on comfort because they understand the importance of letting your employees unwind. Now, a fully soundproof Google nap pod might be a bit out of our budget but other Google employee favourites including hammocks or hanging chairs aren’t as out there as they seem. If in doubt, extra cushions or beanbags also work as a suitable break room investment.
An example of an indoor-hammock suitable for the office
The ‘nap pod’ at Google headquarters, California: Image by Erin Siegal via Reuters
A major benefit of working at Google is the canteen. Google employees are enjoying everything from lobster to slow-cooked duck free of charge. Thankfully, you don’t have to go that far to get happy employees. According to a survey done by PeaPod, companies that provide free food have happier employees compared with those who don’t. So, it might not need to be as complicated as fitting your office with a Michelin star chef, but actually as simple as putting out a cereal station just as TicketFly did back in 2015, which saw a rally of positive responses from employees.
An example cereal station: Image via Hubspot
Slow cooked duck at Google NYC: Image by @bellovanvie via Instagram
Deciding on a direction for your office
The way your office is designed and built effects the productivity of your employees and perceptions of the workplace culture. Each place of work will have different needs when it comes to an office, as it depends on your company’s motivations, industry, expectations, and employees.
Figuring out a direction for the office can be a big task to take on alone. It can sometimes be hard to gage whether the improvements you’ve made in the office space are being well received or if there is something more that you are overlooking. Here – communication with employees is key. To ensure your office is on the right track you should reaching out actively to gage feedback and advice. If you’re making changes across multiple offices or your workspace changes effect a large cohort, consider including some workspace related questions in your next employee survey. This will assist your company by capturing a complete image of the outcome of these changes. Below, we’ve suggested some survey questions that can help your company to develop the perfect office space — whether that’s through incremental changes or large-scale renovations.
- How would you rate working in your current office space?
- How would you rate the recent changes made to [blank] on a scale of 1-5?
- Which elements of an office space are most important to you? Please type in your rank below, labelling these items in order from 1 (most important) to 4 (least important).
- What changes would you like to see in the office? (Please type in below)
Need a helping hand?
If you’re thinking about setting up an employee survey to assist with your next office renovation, or you plan to incorporate some of these questions into your next employee wellness survey, CiVS is here to help. CiVS offers 13 different question tools (more about this here) to help you communicate with your employees in the most efficient way. We also handle the results for you, providing a detailed report to outline the valuable insights your company has gained. Spark your interest? contact the CiVS team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (08) 6314 0580.