It seems there are two types of people in the workforce these days: 1) those that work for a cool, hip, Googlesque company, and 2) those that wish they did. The creative work environments of Google are infamous for their collaborative work spaces, sleeping pods, and perks like free coffee bars and cafeterias. Not only do these offices make other employers beige cubicle farms look like something from George Orwell's 1984, but the management style and business methodology is progressive and inspires staff on a level never seen before.
How Google became the driver of the new workplace, and the effects it has on creativity and productivity, are the subject of Laszlo Bock's insightful book "Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead." As the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Bock has been 'responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting' Googlers since joining the company in 2006. His philosophy, developed alongside his enterprising associates, is to give employees freedom and to supplement their instincts with hard science to make work meaningful and people happy.
"Work Rules!" is a great read for anyone interested in human resources, human nature, or corporate culture, with Bock chronicling the evolution of the Google workplace and management style through engaging discoveries and experiments. They have A-B tested numerous HR programs and policies on their employees, and share the results openly in a refreshing take on staffing and management that employers outside the tech space need to wake up to. With employee engagement at crisis levels on a global scale, the usual way of hiring, training, and reviewing staff is not enough to compete for talent.
You are sure to find a few take-aways from "Work Rules!", as I did. Here's a sample of some of the things that grabbed my attention:
- Google managers don't hire direct-reports themselves, candidates go through an interview process that involves peers and even people that will be reporting to them, providing a more rounded view.
- The role of bosses is to stimulate collaboration, coach and remove roadblocks for staff. They don't hand-hold staff, but focus more on reinforcing the overall vision and then get out of the way so their people can make things happen.
- Goals and objectives are public: what gets watched gets attention, and what gets attention gets results.
- Physical work spaces are designed to encourage interaction across departments. By creating environments where opportunities arise for people that don't usually interact to mingle, a sort of cross-pollination of ideas occurs.
These all sound like logical ideals, but if there is one overarching theme in this book, it is that trusting and empowering staff will have enormous effects on your staffs motivation and output. Whether employers can get over themselves enough to step off the ledge and implement this sort of workplace is the burning question you'll be left with.
And, hey, if you can't convince your job to go this route, you can always check out the Googles Career page, where they challenge you to 'Do cool things that matter!'