Even if some of us haven’t made it quite so far as to walk through the halls of the legendary Google offices, we’ve heard tell of the magical land within: play areas, cafes, outdoor terraces and themed conference rooms all await Google’s employees and visitors. It seems like the ideal workplace but do all these perks really equal happy and productive employees?
What we really need to do is strip it back, right back to before the ideas of ping-pong tables, sleep pods and bean bags infiltrated our idea of what a productive office could be. What is it that gets in the way of employees from reaching their peak performance?
Bad habits – We all know that Facebook and other social media platforms can be distracting but often, friendly chats or eating habits can chip away at our time just as much as the obvious distractions. It’s easy to get into bad habits – especially when the office space easily facilitates those bad habits.
Multi-tasking – It’s common to need to multitask, but when it’s happening too often, it can mean that our attention is split between too many tasks, rather than focusing on just the one. It can also lead to employees feeling overwhelmed and overworked and less inclined to engage in productivity.
Reactivity – How often do you spend the bulk of your day responding to emails? It’s this kind of thing that kills our productivity more than anything else. The demand we feel to always be responding to others and putting out fires cuts into our productivity in a big way – of course, these things are crucial to deal with but having set times to answer emails means that you can have large chunks of time to be proactive and really reach peak productivity.
So, what can managers do to regain our productivity?
Set clear goals and reward results
There is plenty to be said for the gamification of work. We all want to know that there are real results for the work we’re doing – even for tasks that seem insignificant. Set clear goals so that your employees know exactly what they need to be doing and the time frame it needs to be done in – once a milestone is reached or a goal is achieved, reward them! It could be something small like simply acknowledging their hard work (words of affirmation can go a long way) or for those bigger targets, the reward could even be a lunch or party. Choose goals and rewards appropriate for your workplace and see the results roll in as employees become engaged in their work.
Sleeping pods might be a little out of your budget but that doesn’t mean that your employees can’t take a break. Allowing employees to take a walk around the block or have a longer lunch than usual on a Friday can really help to boost morale and give their brains a chance to recharge, ready for the next hour.
Lean into the culture
Most of us don’t work at Google – so open terraces and beanbags won’t always be an option but there’s no reason why you can’t make the most of what you have. Do your employees like to eat lunch together but find themselves huddled around a desk just so they can chat together? Help them out by providing a break room with plenty of tables and chairs that are conducive for discussion. Not only is the lunch break a chance for their mind and body to recharge, it’s also an opportunity for employees to get together and get to know each other better and that time can create a knock-on effect when it comes to collaboration back at their desks.
Many of us look at Google as the model for the perfect workplace but it’s time to take the focus off the activities and the high-tech gadgets, instead focus on the ideas behind them and implement those ideas in your own workplace.
Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.