After Hours

Google gets creative with its work environments

Thought you were lucky because your company's only vending machine was usually stocked? Take a look at the creature comforts Google offers its employees.

In this blog, I've talked about annoying co-workers and obnoxious bosses who can affect your productivity.  But what about the physical attributes of your workplace?

In the April 2009 edition of Scientific American, there was an article on neuroscience by Emily Anthes titled "How room designs affect your work and mood." In the piece, Anthes tells the story of how Jonas Salk claimed he wasn't able to solve the puzzle of polio until he left his basement lab and went to clear his head in a monastery in Assisi. He claimed the architecture and serene views gave him the right mental conditions for the creative and intellectuals leaps he needed to make.

There have also been studies done on the affect of colors in the office on moods and productivity.

There are other factors to consider besides productivity, however. What if you want your offices to attract members of Gens X and Y, who have grown up with the stimulation of video games and mind-bending movie special effects? A lot of companies are starting to realize that offices don't have to be staid, cubicle farms, that a workplace can be visually stimulating but still be a place to work.

If you want to see some far-out creature comforts, you can look at our gallery of office shots from the international offices of Google. It seems to me that European companies are more daring in office design than their American counterparts. For one example, take a look at this atrium in Google's Dublin office (Figure A).

Figure A

Some companies might not look kindly upon such amenities, seeing them as just a means of distraction for workers. But who's to say that a little distraction can't amp people up when it's time to put the nose to the grindstone?

To see more images of Google's offices, click here.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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