The relationship between workplace design and productivity has been the subject of countless discussions, articles and arguments. Given that a major portion of the current workforce belongs to the ‘Millennial’ generation, the link between the two is slowly and steadily finding supporters. In simple terms, who wouldn’t love to work at a workplace that looks inviting and creates an atmosphere that encourages creativity and collaboration? And it’s not just about incorporating fancy interiors and bursts of colour - it is about finding the design that complements the culture of the organisation and resonates with what the employees would need to fulfill their functions.
To elucidate the role that workplace design plays in an organisation, we compared two tech giants with radically different cultures and approaches to work and office design. While Google is known for going all out and encouraging creativity with a workplace design that is fun and flexible, Amazon is almost infamous for being frugal, reflecting its culture as a ruthless taskmaster. Let’s take a look at their approaches to workplace design, and how their strikingly different individual styles work well for them.
Amazon vs Google: Approaches To Workplace Design
It is important to understand the rationale that influences the organizations’ choice of workplace design. While Google is focused on encouraging innovation, Amazon is famous for keeping ‘customer obsession’ as its number one priority. Let’s explore how the workplace design reflects their style of working.
Google: Where Design Boosts Creativity
Google is known for its vibrant and innovative work environments. The use of bold colours not only make the offices look attractive, but also fire up the imagination. In fact, Google has managed to incorporate multiple work environments or zones, enabling its employees to work the way they want to and to be at their productive best.
‘Open’ Workspaces With Customisable Desks
Employees are encouraged to work wherever they are comfortable. They can leave the open space environment and shift to different environments, available in countless themes and styles.
Alternative ‘Working Environments’
Google also recognizes that the connection between humans and nature is important, and has incorporated this into their workplace design. This concept is referred to as ‘biophilia’ and highlights the importance of incorporating nature into the workplace for the employees’ health, wellbeing and productivity.
Google is, essentially, the ‘king of corporate perks’! It offers everything an employee may need under one roof - innovatively designed areas for relaxation, play, brainstorming, meetings, etc.
Inspiring Meeting Rooms
Taking The ‘Fun’ Element Seriously
Some Work, Some Play
Google’s workplace design amply reflects its culture - one that focuses on creativity and innovation. While Google goes all out to ensure that its employees are high on ideas, Amazon employs a more conservative approach, urging its employees to be ‘consumer-obsessed’!
Amazon: The ‘Consumer-Obsessed’ Culture
The leaders of Amazon are known to start with the customer and work backwards, unlike its counterparts that are competitor obsessed. Additionally, it follows the ‘two pizza’ rule, which translated to keeping team sizes small enough to be fed by two pizzas, therefore keeping it lean enough to adapt to growth. Like Google, it fosters invention and focuses on looking beyond failures and setbacks.
The Tri-Sphere Biodome
The concept of providing ‘alternative work environments’ is not lost on Amazon. Its new biodome at Seattle aims at providing ample amount of work, dining, and lounge space, in addition to a dog park, walkway and open field surrounding the exterior.
This radical concept also incorporates nature into the design, thereby re-establishing the connection between the employees and their natural surroundings.
Amazon focuses on building workspaces in livable cities. Given that it is first and foremost the master of logistics, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Amazon cares a lot about transportation. It demands on-site access to mass transit—train, subway, or bus—and to be no more than one or two miles from major highways and connecting roads. It also wants to be within 45 minutes of an international airport.
The first floor of Amazon’s Seattle Campus is a coworking space. This is mainly to encourage employees to work with their partners, researchers and customers.
The rationale behind a coworking space is to integrate good workspace design that enhances exploration with the digital work habits of individuals and small teams.
Amazon takes immense interest in the daily living and recreational opportunities available for people in each proposed area. It also checks on the housing prices and availability, general cost of living, and crime statistics.
While Amazon and Google both employ workplace designs that aim at fostering creativity and inventiveness in its employees, both have radically different approaches - while Google focuses on providing all that an employee needs within its premises, Amazon stresses more on accessibility and the environment outside.
Their work culture differs too, with Amazon being stubbornly ‘customer-oriented’ and focusing all its energy on the same. Google works purely to outdo itself with each offering. This is amply reflected by their choices of workplace design!
And as is evident from their success - it works extremely well for them too!
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