Why is there a slide in the Google-plex?

From cubicles to ball pits, conference rooms to shooting pool, Office Space to The Internship, and from Alcatraz to Hawaii, how and where we go to work has drastically evolved over the past decade. So much so, that a key data point tracking start up growth in Palo Alto is the sale of Ping Pong tables- the preeminent purchase of a growing start-up.

Office design affects productivity, happiness, and a promotes a positive company culture, which in turn helps recruit the best talent. When deciding where to work, culture and workplace benefits are on everyone’s list of must-haves. But a company’s infrastructure does not just need to be better than their competitors; with the increase in technology and mobile offices, local coffee shops are now the strongest competitor of the standard office. Why commute to work when a local café is a minute-and-a-half away? What do coffee shops offer other than a convenient location?

Productivity! The telecommuters that work out of coffees shops are 35% more productive with ambient noise in the background than they would be at home or in a quiet work environment.

With approximately 24.3 million people working from local cafés, it’s no wonder that high-end espresso machines, beer taps, and unlimited snacks are necessities in offices across Silicon Valley. The stronger the coffee is at the café, the better the coffee needs to be at work; the better the music is at Starbucks, the faster the wi-fi needs to be at your desk; the tastier the croissant is down the block, the more flavors of homemade macaroons your boss will bring to put outside his office. 

With all this competition for amenities, a new type of office category was created- Coworking.

Coworking is the magical offspring of corporate and start-ups; the best of both worlds. Coworking spaces have cold brew coffee, the fastest wi-fi, and most importantly they encourage the same (if not more!) productivity as the traditional workplace. It is no wonder that from 2014–2015 there was a 36% global increase in coworking spaces with about five-hundred-thousand international coworking members (deskmag). 

Working together out of a shared space increases productivity, collaboration, cooperation, community, and of course- it’s usually more comfortable. Coworking offices also deal with all the logistical office issues traditionally impacting office productivity: paying utility bills, fixing the plumbing, landlines issues, wi-fi issues, and worst of all, dealing with nasty tenants.

Although there probably aren’t any slides in any of your Coworking locations, the idea is the same: 

Offices that focus on employee’s well-being will see an increase in productivity and will generate more overall happiness in the workplace. 

(This ‘productivity hack’ was first discovered by Elton Mayo in 1958, and is now referred to as the Hawthorne Effect- as it was first implemented in the Hawthorn Works energy company).

Coworking spaces doubled down on the Hawthorne Effect by offering private events, mentoring workshops, business development resources, dry cleaning services, virtual secretaries, and much more. 

Over the last years, parallel to the rise in coworking spaces, offices have also gone all-in with employee benefits, standardizing work hours, happy hour meet-ups, and honing in on employees’ needs. 

With more small companies, freelancers, and students joining the Coworking team, only time will tell where the future of coworking is headed. It is clear, however, that coworking was and will continue to be built upon the foundation of its members’ happiness and needs.

So why the slide?

Perhaps it was just the fastest way to get from point A to point B, or maybe it was for the publicity, but if the intention was to keep employees happy, then it truly aided in the revolution of he modern office for the better.

P.S. The first happy employee to slide down the slide was apparently this guy in 2008- but according to his YouTube comment, he left Google to go work at a start-up- probably located at his local coworking hub.