Google has one of the most relaxing and fun business environments around. Google employees also report being less stressed and feeling more creative as a direct result of how their office looks. Their teams are reportedly more productive, generally happy, and more innovative than other employees in the tech world, and their relaxed environment is no doubt a huge contributing factor.
According to research, happy and healthy employees are 12 percent more productive. It makes sense that you would want your business to be the same. Here are some of the top solutions for creating a better work atmosphere.
1. Use White Boards
Scatter whiteboards around the office to allow for unbridled creativity. Google’s walls are covered in whiteboards and other writing surfaces so that people can brainstorm ideas, write down important thoughts as they come up, or share a funny joke they heard in the break room. The tool is a simple addition, but it’s incredibly useful for creative and productive work.
2. Provide Food
One of the best things about Google’s campus is the close proximity to food. If you visit a Google facility, your guide pamphlet makes it clear that there is no part of the building that’s more than 150 feet away from a restaurant, cafeteria, or micro kitchen. In fact, Google encourages their employees to eat often, since hunger is a real damper on creativity.
What’s more, it’s a great way for employees to socialize and brainstorm together. Laszlo Bock, author and Senior Vice President of People’s Operations, explains that providing food in the office is one of the best ways to promote teamwork and get people to bounce ideas off each other. If you don’t have the monstrous budget that Google has, you could consider simple upgrades like a modern snack area or plentiful office water dispensers to encourage team engagement, as well as providing staff with the necessities.
“At a minimum, they might have a great conversation,” says Bock referring to employees’ frequent visits to the food carts. “And maybe they’ll hit on an idea for our users that hasn’t been thought of yet.”
3. Designate Play Areas
When visiting a Google campus, one thing that really stands out is the number of toys throughout the building. You’ll find Ping-Pong, foosball, and pool tables alongside slides in place of staircases. There are also TV break rooms and other areas where people can sit and veg while eating lunch or taking a morning break.
Keeping toys in the office might seem like a recipe for disaster from those who abuse it, but most offices with similarly equipped break rooms in the office actually find it to be the opposite. Rather than abusing it, employees use the toys to blow off steam, wake up when they’re feeling drowsy, literally bounce ideas off of each other, and boost their moods. The direct result in each scenario is higher productivity and creativity from employees.
4. Make It Homey
Google’s atmosphere feels like home to a lot of people. They’re allowed to personalize their workspaces, and you can create more of that homey spirit with some improvements to the office.
One idea is a wood furnace or fireplace. “Wood furnaces are a great addition to any office,” says Josh Jones of Wood-Furnaces.net. “Besides being a very utilitarian furnace, there is something attractive and comforting in the flames. Many types of wood naturally emit a wonderful scent as well. Certain woods are treated so as to create spectacular burning colors and scents when they burn.” These scents and the feeling of warmth are both excellent for promoting creativity in your small office while lowering your utility bills.
5. Provide Standing Desks
Standing desks allow a change up from the typical slouching and stationary position for most office workers. They’re considered healthier and great for promoting productivity, and they’re everywhere in Google’s offices.
“I think the first reason [standing desks] are available is because Google wants people to be comfortable when they work, and wants people to be able to work the way they want to,” says Aaron Stein of Google’s Mountain View Campus in New York City. “As long as they’re happy and they’re making other people happy.”
Google’s entire focus is around making their employees happier and healthier. Incorporating some of these ideas into your own office can help you do the same.