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Secrets Behind the World’s Greatest Minds: 15 Cool Designs of Google Offices Around The World

Secrets Behind the World’s Greatest Minds: 15 Cool Designs of Google Offices Around The World

Office design is critically important to creativity and collaboration. Mobile technology and flexible scheduling means the traditional model of one desk and one chair in one office is obsolete, and Google has long recognized that. But their work environment goes beyond the basic ergonomic chairs most of us would think are a nice benefit to a design aesthetic that inspires.

According to Google, “Here’s the secret sauce to our benefits and perks: It’s all about removing barriers so Googlers can focus on the things they love, both inside and outside of work. We are constantly searching for unique ways to improve the health and happiness of our Googlers. And it doesn’t stop there–our hope is that, ultimately, you become a better person by working here.”

As you can see, these design elements not only have a visual “wow” factor, they also build morale, improve employee health and wellness, and inspire the employees to achieve.

Secret #1: Embrace the Local Personality

Google PGH office

    Google doesn’t make the mistake of simply copying their California offices in other cities. Instead, they adapt local materials, styles and identities into each new location. For example, a Google’s office in Pittsburgh, PA features a nod to the Steel City’s history by including a massive photo of a bridge mid-construction. I wonder which of the famous three rivers this bridge spans?

    Secret #2: Hedge Your Bets in London

    Google London

      Fresh air is a fantastic natural stimulant and a dedicated outdoor space for employees is a boost to morale. Of course Google wouldn’t be satisfied with the typical picnic table behind the parking lot that most employers offer. Instead, they’ve created a secret garden with private and public seating on the roof of their London HQ.

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      Secret #3: Padded Cell Meeting Room

      Google meeting room

        Do you shy away from conflict at work? Maybe you wouldn’t if you could meet colleagues in a padded room, like this one in the 160,000 square foot Google London HQ.

        Secret #4: Remember Your Roots

        Google book nook

          Google’s founding in a garage was the inspiration for the company’s Amsterdam offices, designed by D/DOCK. The garage-chick look is carried throughout the offices, including this conference room.

          Secret #5: Book Nook

          book room

            Google’s London HQ uses fun and quirky names to describe each of their rooms, including the LaLa Library. Employees can continue to learn and develop professionally while lounging on this couch with a good book. You can thank interior designers PENSON for the beautiful look of the London offices.

            Secret #6: Meeting Room Magic

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            Google meeting room2

              In Madrid, Jump Studios designed a large conference room that meets the technical needs of a global business but also had a little fun with binary code on one wall. The missing code reveals the word “Madrid” on the wall to add a little hometown pride.

              Secret #7: Hammock Hang Out

              Google hammock

                Some workers can’t be creative in a faux leather chair at a particleboard desk. But in a hammock the ideas flow. Google’s office space in Pittsburgh, designed by local firm Strada, gives new life to the phrase “Google Hangout.”

                Secret #8: Work up a Sweat

                Google gym

                  If you expect your employees to put in extra hours, they need a way to burn off energy and clear their minds. And given the rising cost of health care, it also makes financial sense to invest in employee wellness. Google provides exercise areas, ergonomic workspaces and even exercise balls in meeting rooms. Here is a shot of the fitness center in Google’s Tel Aviv headquarters which houses treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and more, all with a beautiful view of Tel Aviv.

                  Secret #9: Smirk While You Work

                  Google camper

                    Some of us can only close the door to our boring square office when we want to be alone. This phone or reading booth in Amsterdam, designed to look like a mobile home, would be a much better place to seek out privacy. Unlike traditional offices that stick to a professional (some might say stuffy) aesthetic, Google isn’t afraid to have a laugh in their design choices.

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                    Secret #10: Move Beyond the Water Cooler

                    google water cooler

                      Google is famous for offering its employees food perks. They also offer mini-kitchens and break rooms that are perfect for a tete-a-tete over coffee and put the traditional water cooler to shame. This pantry space at Google-owned YouTube headquarters in Tokyo is a break space most employees would die for.

                      Secret #11: Always Branding

                      Google brand

                        If you haven’t noticed from the pictures already, the Google brand is ever-present in the company’s design choices. From repeating the company name to using the blue, red, yellow and green that appear in the logo, each office is branded perfectly. When Google opened their offices in D.C.,

                        Susan Molinari, the vice president of public policy said, “We want to allow people who come in here to get themselves to a place that the message of innovation is problem solving, and it’s told in so many different ways.”

                        How does your current workspace reflect your brand?

                        Secret #12: Let There Be Light

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                        Google lights

                          As you’ve seen, there’s plenty of natural light in Google workspaces. But when there isn’t, or when nightfall comes, the designers don’t rely on the tired fluorescent lighting that comes standard in most offices. Check out these flower shaped floor lamps that complement the use of outdoor themed wall art and natural fabrics. Whether the lights are turned on or off, they contribute to the beauty of the room.

                          Secret #13: Cheers!

                          Google pub

                            You probably could have guessed that this pub is a feature of the Google offices in Dublin. Designed by Camenzind Evolution, the Dublin HQ spans four buildings for a total of over 500,000 square feet, all of which are meant to mirror the bustling city it calls home.

                            Secret #14: Relax

                            Google bath

                              For most of us, work is the opposite of relaxing. We might even spend our weekends trying to decompress with exercise, salon visits and pedicures. But at Google’s office in Zurich, these relaxation rooms contain massage chairs and even relaxation bathtubs filled with foam.

                              Secret #15: Not Your High School Cafeteria

                              Google cafeteria

                                The food is so good (and free) at Google that some jokingly refer to the “Google fifteen,” referencing the fifteen pounds employees are sure to gain once being surrounded by munchies and meals. But look beyond to the food to recognize that this gives employees yet another way to come together, collaborate, and communicate.

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                                Kayla Matthews

                                Productivity and self-improvement blogger

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                                Published on August 3, 2020

                                How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

                                How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

                                With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

                                However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

                                By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

                                Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

                                1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

                                Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

                                Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

                                It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

                                Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

                                2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

                                It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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                                On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

                                In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

                                When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

                                3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

                                Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

                                Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

                                And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

                                Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

                                4. Create a Closing Down Routine

                                This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

                                Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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                                Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

                                5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

                                Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

                                Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

                                You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

                                I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

                                • Inbox
                                • This week
                                • Next week
                                • This month
                                • Next month
                                • Long-term / On-hold

                                Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

                                One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

                                Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

                                6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

                                This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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                                Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

                                I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

                                If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

                                7. Do an Annual Clean-up

                                One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

                                I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

                                I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

                                It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

                                With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

                                Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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                                8. Do a Little, Often

                                I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

                                I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

                                I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

                                When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

                                Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

                                Final Thoughts

                                If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

                                More Tips on How to Be Organized

                                Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

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