The Progression of the Tech Workplace
We've been thinking recently about how there's always so much press about the office of the future and where it is heading. These conversations tend to focus on the variables that will disrupt our current paradigm: technology, infrastructure, workforce, and social trends. Less talked about are the fundamental workplace principles that tech companies have helped to foster into corporate America. Google is one of the leaders in this movement through the inclusion of early 20th century Montessori fundamentals into the everyday workplace. In fact, the company’s founders are on record with regard to the influence of their Montessori education on the founding of Google.
This philosophy led to employee-centric spaces that encourage absorbent minds and foster self-starter behaviors. The result was a corporate culture of trust, peer learning, and independence surrounded by an aesthetically stimulating environment. To outsiders these spaces might have appeared “fun” (or “playful” or “elementary”) when in reality they were just the early stages of a workplace experiment that would prove to change work culture everywhere.
We’re now a decade past some of these first spaces, and Google continues to innovate and develop new products. They’re a global business leader, a success that comes in close association with Google’s culture and workplace motif. Tech companies worldwide now look to Google as the prime example for what creative tech office space should look like. They are hoping to replicate a culture without necessarily realizing the underlying principles of how and why those spaces look the way they do.
In true Montessori fashion Google has moved through the phases of development and has gone on to develop different forms of collaborative space. In addition, holistic employee and team development has taken on new forms that include physical fitness, culinary education, and relationships to biophilia and nature. The more they observe from their employees interactions, the more they are able to refine their workplace. In essence: they’re always learning. We have experienced this first hand in our work with them on their Kirkland campus.
Ultimately, we see companies beginning to shift their business mentalities from replicating enticing offices, to really investing in workplace solutions that elevate their most valuable asset: people. If we look to Google’s history of what the office of the future entails, it’s more about entering adulthood as lifelong learners. The assumption that whimsy automatically leads to inspiration has passed and we have moved on to developing holistic solutions that are continuously stimulating learning, growth, creativity, and invention.