What makes a company extraordinary? For many, it would be those that treat employees well. These companies value their employees, viewing every individual accomplishment as part of their overall success and have taken steps to ensure that they have created a productive and fun work environment.
Regardless of their products, services or business models, companies from Google to LEGO and Red Bull have one thing in common: awe-inspiring offices. And while many of the items they have may be unattainable for the average company, the ideas behind them are not.
Here are the top 10 things you’ll find in the offices of these successful companies – and they’re all things you can and should have in yours.
1. Food – According to Josh Dunlop’s article on com, there’s a rule at Google that nobody is allowed to be more than 100 meters away from food. The company’s offices house multiple kitchens and dining halls and every employee is fed three times a day. While most companies don’t have this type of food budget or office space, it’s still important to provide your employees with a well-stocked kitchen and pantry. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to jump on the chocolate and chips diet, but it’s good to include some fruits and vegetables in the mix too.
2. Toys – It’s no surprise that the offices of companies like LEGO would be full of toys (which, they are) but other offices are stocked with them as well. AOL’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA is loaded with pool tables and game rooms while Google chose to turn part of its Zurich office into a playground complete with fireman’s pole and twisty slide. I’m proud to say our own office is no stranger to a good game of darts or the occasional Nerf gun war when we need to lift our spirits or get the creative juices flowing. I highly encourage you to check in with your teams, find out how they like to have fun and make a quick trip to the nearest toy store.
3. Relaxation & Social Spaces – While it’s important to support group activities and social gatherings among the whole company, it’s equally as important to provide some quiet spaces that take employees away from their desks. Whether it’s a single person or small group breaking away from the pack, it’s crucial that employees have a place to go for a change of scenery. Providing them with a lounge area or another type of social space (even if it’s as simple as a table in the break room) allows them to truly step away from work so they can return to it refreshed and ready to take on their next task.
4. Light – We’re not talking incandescent or LED lights, but real, natural daylight. One of the things you’ll see in any successful company’s office is plenty of windows and science has proven it helps. According to research by Swiss neuroscientist Mirjam Munch, workers exposed to direct daylight are significantly more alert than those working under artificial lights.
5. Office Plants – Studies have proven the benefits of indoor plants on attention span and productivity. According to studies conducted in part by Ruth K Raanaas of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, workers who had plants and flowers on their desks performed better on tasks that colleagues with empty desks. A subsequent study verified this, showing that workers at desks with plants and a window view received an additional cognitive boost.
6. Open Space – There’s been a major shift in commercial architecture toward open space design and many of the world’s biggest companies have jumped on board. Facebook’s office, for example, is characterized by big open spaces as is YouTube’s San Bruno, California location. Open space allows for a better flow of communication and helps ensure that employees connect and bond with one another. While you may not have as large an office space as a Fortune 500 company, it’s not a bad idea to invest in an open floor plan for your next business space.
7. Customization – Online shoe retailer, Zappos, may have stuck with the cubicle design, but its approach is anything but ordinary. The company encourages its employees to let their personality shine through by truly customizing their workspace so each cubicle reflects the person inside. Not only does this create a very interesting office, but it reinforces a key part of the company’s culture: that each employee is important and valued as an individual. Regardless of whether you have an open or cubed workspace, let your employees bring their own unique flare to the environment.
8. Color – Don’t underestimate the importance of a lively coat of paint. A recent University of Texas study proved that gray, beige and white offices can invoke feelings of sadness and depression. Other studies have shown that the color of your surroundings directly influences productivity. This great infographic from Taskworld shows how different colors impact focus, boost creativity, improve happiness and reduce stress.
9. Pictures – While you’re exploring new color combinations, consider picking out some pictures to go with it. Choose photos that reflect your office’s culture and values. This is a great opportunity to really highlight your company, its people and what it stands for, so don’t be afraid to get creative and show your fun side!
10. Unique Workspaces – Brainstorming at your desk can be a challenge. Sometimes you need to stretch your legs or experience new surroundings to get the creative juices flowing. Unique workspaces can help with this. Imagine the employee engagement and productivity that could be generated in a room with whiteboards for walls and bean bags for chairs, and that’s only one idea – the possibilities are endless!
When our team moved to our new office, we made an effort to implement many of the above suggestions such as purchasing our dart board, stocking our fridge and hanging pictures (which was a fun day in and of itself!).
When choosing or redecorating an office space, think about your employees and the little things that you can do to give them (and your company as a whole) the best chance for success. You won’t be disappointed in the results!