Actually, it has many; and no, Google does not just use it for team building activities. It allows its employees to use it any time of the day. These swim-in-place pools are narrow and a bit short with water that flows in one direction only. Employees literally swim against the current, of course under the watchful eyes of lifeguards.
Trust Google to reinvent the wheel: a facility that combines physical exercise, stress management, paradigm shift, and the image of a caring company.
But that is not the only perk that Googleplex offers: it has a barber shop, gym complete with equipment, a billiard table, a ping pong table, video games, massage, laundry and dry cleaning. Employees can even come on weekends and do their laundry for free.
The message is strong: Google is not your usual company. And the message is accepted well by its thousands of employees who help propel the company to be a global leader.
Team building, Google style, has many variations and there is literally one for every preference. But what are the essential components to create such a culture?
A. A clear and consistent management commitment. The driving force behind Google’s dynamic workforce is the vision and commitment of its top management, especially of its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to create a different approach to management – something that truly fits their personalities as innovators. In fact, it has assigned a Chief Culture Officer to ensure that the culture will be maintained.
B. A physical environment that supports a flat organization and a culture of fun and innovation. Apparently, the only rooms in Googleplex that have opaque walls are the bathrooms and the massage rooms, the rest are transparent if not non-existent. The whole design of a company, as Google has brilliantly demonstrated, must reflect is core values.
C. Supportive policies. In order to create a culture of innovation, Google has a 20% work time policy. It means that it allows employees to use 20 % of their work time to create anything and do something outside the official workload. That actually translates to one day a week. Most of the company’s new products are fruits of this policy.
D. Small things count. For example, above the urinals in Googleplex are tips and puzzles about codes. This is just one of the many small things that managers can do to create a culture of innovation and fun in the office.
Yes, an in-house or off-site team building activity that are fun and innovative serve as a good starting point. In our company, we use activities like cooking, treasure hunting, and video making to bring out the team spirit of each member.
The bottom line is this: as Google had illustrated, a culture of fun and innovation is more productive and beneficial to the company.
About the author: Betty Robinson, entrepreneur and one of Philadelphia’s the first female chefs was known for her creative, non-conventional style of cooking. These qualities still define her and her current passion as founder and CEO of Philly Hops an innovative team building company specializing in team building activities that build trust and promote high performance teamwork.