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Have you ever wondered why Google has such a spectacular office? What’s the reason for the enviable things we read about, such as the gaming areas, sleeping pods, coffee bars, and workout zones?

Given Google’s extraordinary and sustained success in the tech industry, it’s clear by now that the grandiose interiors aren’t merely for show. Rather, the company’s investment is a reflection of its overarching philosophy “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world,” as summed up by former spokesperson Jordan Newman.

Newman’s summary effectively outlines Google’s approach to cultivating a thriving office environment. By strategically optimising the workspace and enhancing the overall experience, Google fosters an environment that helps both employees and the company to achieve their full potential.

With Google’s approach in mind, we’re going to explore what you can do to elevate employee experience too. Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to have a Google-sized budget for a lavish office refurbishment, but we will offer some fun, practical tips that will undoubtedly benefit everyone.

Take Inspiration from Hospitality

It’s good to have a sense of identity, but adhering to time-honoured workspace design themes shouldn’t hold you back from exploring unconventional ideas. For example, a typical corporate office may communicate power more than comfort, but that may not necessarily be the best thing for staff wellbeing and productivity.

Over in Washington DC, the approach for the Signal House office fit out shows that design needn’t be informed by the aesthetic norms of a certain sector. Despite being situated in an area associated with high-calibre law firms, the office building’s interior exudes a sense of hospitality, characterised by a variety of amenities and opulent décor.

In short, the office design is employee-centric, with features chosen specifically to elevate the workplace experience. This will no doubt have the “Google-effect” of boosting wellbeing and productivity too, helping those Washington-based businesses to gain an advantage in competitive markets. Moreover, the luxurious environment will help entice people into the office, which may suit some companies in the age of hybrid working.

Build a Community Spirit

In our recent blog, we looked at how businesses can use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a reference point to help improve workplace wellbeing. One of the points we covered refers to “belongingness”, which is the human emotional need for relationships and being part of a group.

Given the fundamental need for human connection, you can undoubtedly improve the workplace experience by fostering a greater sense of community. Here are some ideas:

Eat or cook together – When Jeremy Andrus took over as Traeger Grills CEO in 2014, he helped to change a toxic culture by encouraging employees to cook breakfast and lunch together. Initiatives like these are of course aided by catering facilities, so consider introducing a micro kitchen and an enticing breakout space to bring employees together for meals.

Be nostalgicResearch shows that sharing positive memories from past events can help to boost morale. In addition to booking events to create those memories, you can encourage nostalgia by building a memory wall. That way, employees will be able to relive the good times, such as team outings, charity events, and award ceremonies.

Designate shared spaces – To promote spontaneous interactions, designate shared spaces for gatherings and impromptu discussions, such as gaming areas, zones with communal pods and tables, and comfortable lounges. All of these are ideal for building long-term connections who can become part of some nostalgia-inducing memories.

Don’t forget, you can also involve your employees in the office refurbishment process to ensure the space reflects their needs. By soliciting their input for ideas, you will help employees to develop a stronger connection with the business and further instil a sense of belonging.

Check out 20 office breakout area ideas here

Capture Your Brand Identity

Capturing your brand identity can also help employees to develop a stronger bond with the business. If they are immersed in an office that mirrors your company’s culture, vision and values, employees will feel a greater sense of belonging and connection to a shared purpose.

Hudl’s recent office refurbishment is a great example of a brand-led interior design scheme. As the global leader in sports video and data, the Islington-based company wanted its office to reflect this identity and inspire employees. To achieve this, the London office design includes conferencing booths named after sporting heroes, imitation grass walls, a football badge-themed graffiti mural, motivational signage reading “make every moment count”, and pennant flags with various phrases like “win together”.

With these elements, it’s clear that a sense of identity shines through. Furthermore, the motivational slogans send a message that the company has the same determined, winning mentality as the teams it analyses, helping to spur employees on to achieve their professional goals.

See more on-brand office refurbishment projects here

Encourage Play

If you look at images of Google’s offices, you will often see employees engaging in some form of play, such as a game of ping pong or snooker. Indeed, Google is known for this, with its offices around the globe sporting everything from climbing walls to volleyball pitches to video game areas.

According to research, play is good for both teams and individuals, which is no doubt why Google encourages it. From a team perspective, workers that engage in play are said to benefit from increased trust, bonding, a sense of solidarity, and a decreased sense of hierarchy. For individuals, the evidence shows that play is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout.

With more benefits than meets the eye, it seems that introducing features to encourage play is a smart move – and you don’t have to break the bank either. Take the above mentioned Hudl, which introduced a dartboard and ping pong table to inject some fun into its breakout area.

Help Employees to Reach Their Full Potential

In order to be satisfied at work, employees need to have a feeling of self-worth, accomplishment and respect. The problem with some offices, however, is that their rigid, conventional designs often prevent people from reaching their full potential.

This is a minus for the businesses too, so what can be done about it? Here are some ideas…

Offer personalisation and choice – Everybody’s mind works differently, which is why it’s advantageous to provide a range of settings for employees to choose how they want to work. Such settings may include low traffic areas for deep work, plug and play office booths, or “third spaces”. If you are unfamiliar with third spaces, they are casual seating areas that are ideal for group or individual work – as favoured by Google.

Promote a growth mindset – Showing that you care about an employee’s growth within the company is a great way to retain talent. To do this, you could introduce a training room or take steps to foster a more collaborative environment. While the latter is partly down to culture, you can help by setting your space up to include collaborative office furniture solutions, such as adaptable modular seating, whiteboard tables, and shared desks.

Embrace wellbeing – Beyond the quality of their work, you can help employees to reach their full potential on a more personal level too. If you have the space and budget, consider creating a wellness area. This could be a mindfulness/meditation zone with cushions and mats, or even an exercise zone with training facilities like spin bikes and rowing machines.

Don’t forget to consider an employee’s comfort as well. It may be hard for an employee to concentrate if, for example, they have back trouble, so ask if they require ergonomic furniture to make their working day easier.

Thanks for Reading!

By implementing some of these strategies, you can create a workplace that mirrors Google’s success, fostering a culture of happiness, productivity, and innovation. Remember, the key to a thriving workplace lies in valuing your employees, investing in their development, and creating an environment where they feel empowered to do their best work.

With that, we hope these ideas will help you create a happier, more productive workplace that benefits your team and business. If you need further inspiration, feel free to check out our project page or, alternatively, refer to Google!

Written by Chris Sparham

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If you’ve been inspired by the ideas in our blog, then we’d love to help. Our design and build team has vast experience in creating stunning workspaces that are productive, practical, and inspirational, helping employees and businesses to reach their full potential.

To learn more about our cutting-edge office refurbishment service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0333 600 1234 or fill out the enquiry form below.