Google has urged Australian and New Zealand companies to copy its famously chilled-out working practices, saying it makes for happy, creative employees and better business.
Google’s Australian headquarters in harbourside Sydney is a den of zen: an Aladdin’s cave of cool where you’ll sooner see a flying pig than a business suit, and the furnishings are soft enough to make a wolverine purr.
Want a nap halfway through the day? Sure, sit in the nearest sleep pod and have 40 winks.
Sick of hearing your colleague wittering on about his baby’s first burp?
No worries, tuck yourself away in one of the cocoon-like work pods.
Or head to the games room – where you can play pool, table tennis or the guitar.
Google’s been working like this for years – in line with common practices at America’s leading bluechip tech companies, including Apple, Facebook and Twitter.
It’s borne out of a belief that relaxed workers do better, are more able to solve problems, are more creative and more likely to succeed.
And it’s a method Australian and Kiwi companies could follow, Google believes – not only in terms of physical space, but also more flexible approaches to IT policies, full use of social media on work time and the ability to work from home.
‘People want to work the way they live; people don’t want to step back in time as they walk through the office door,’ Google Australia’s industry director, Claire Hatton, said.
Ms Hatton said a relaxed office space encourages collaboration, and easy-going IT policies lead to happier employees and better business.
‘Making it easy for employees to connect, work and share together makes a whole heap of sense and it also makes them happier,’ she added.
‘At Google, we believe collaboration is intrinsically linked with innovation – that’s why we’ve designed our offices the way we have.
‘The same philosophy that we extend to our design space also extends to our technology policies.’
She said some Australian and Kiwi companies – Air New Zealand and Westpac among them – have recognised that a relaxed approach works, with policies enabling staff to ‘access information on whatever device they want to, wherever they are, at whatever time they want to’.
Ms Hatton was speaking at the launch of new Google-commissioned research, carried out by consultants Deloitte, which claimed Australian and New Zealand business leaders are in a ‘war’ to attract skilled employees.
The report said relaxed working practices, especially IT polices, is key to attracting and retaining skilled workers.