6 Things to Steal from Google to Improve your Freelance Company Culture

6 Things to Steal from Google to Improve your Freelance Company Culture

Google has consistently been among the top 10 places to work for the last 6 years according to Glassdoors Best Places to Work. They obviously value the happiness of their employees, and they do so for one simple reason: happy employees are more effective employees. It’s not rocket science, and I don’t think I have to find a study for this mindblowing fact that satisfied people make better workers. Do freelancers take the time to think about their own employees, ie. themselves? I’m going to take you through 6 things you should steal from Google to improve your freelance company culture.

freelance company culture bedroom home office

Freelance Company Culture, what’s that?

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, freelance company culture? What company culture? It’s just me with a laptop in my home office/guest bedroom/dusty old workout equipment storage room. I get that, but I would also argue that if you’re a full-time freelancer who supports yourself with this job than you should take it as seriously, if not more so than companies do. Large companies have 1,000’s of employees to fall back on if one doesn’t work out. Who do you have?

Google understands that the well-being of their employees is the foundation for their success. I’ll go out on a limb here and say you probably haven’t thought about your own well-being for a while, especially if you’re just getting started on your freelance journey. As the most important, and most likely only employee in your company, your health and well-being should take priority #1. Have you ever tried working when you’re sick?

Let’s look at some ideas you should “steal” from Google to improve your freelance company culture

1.Play

Take a look at these photos? Do they look like a company that’s worth 120 billion dollars or more like something out of a movie where Adam Sandler is a millionaire bachelor?

freelance company culture google slidefreelance company culture google putt putt

So the question is why? Why does Google have offices like this? The one simple answer is that Google wants its employees to enjoy coming to work. They want to create a relaxed environment that gives off ‘good vibes’. Play is also essential for creativity. As stated in this article from Creative Something

“By removing the strain and constraints of the real world, play allows us to more openly explore possibilities in our work.”

Google wants its employees to be creative. So much so that they have their own 80/20 policy. 80% of the time Google employees work on the tasks they’re assigned while 20% of their workday is spent on things each individual employee is interested in. That 20%, according to an article at Qz.com, has brought us the ideas for Gmail, AdSense, Google Talk, and Google News. Unfortunately, Google is getting away from this 80/20 practice because engineers are feeling pushback on productivity numbers, which is a shame, but the results speak for themselves.

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

I don’t know about you, but I became a freelancer for the freedom it gave me to choose when and how I wanted to work. Adding elements of “play” into your day can change everything. You could go to the park in the middle of the day when no one’s there. Set up tennis or golf lessons in the late morning after you get a few hours of work in.

freelance company culture basketball hoop

There are 100’s of things you could do to add some play into your day, which in turn makes you happier, healthier and more productive freelance “employee”. I’d advise breaking your day up into smaller chunks with a bit of play and rest between times of concentrated focus.

2. Gym/self-care

freelance company culture google rock wall

Some of the best perks of working at Google come in the form of Healthcare. Its campuses have onsite gyms, some have climbing walls, and the Dublin offices even come with a 25m lap pool. Oh, wait. There’s more. There are doctors on hand as well as masseuses where you can get a very cheap massage anytime you’d like. Is there really anything else you could ask from your employer?

It’s easy to see that Google prioritises the health of their employees. That’s obviously true. Something a little less obvious about these perks is that Google is trying to cut out distraction. It may not seem that way but let’s take a look.

In the long run, what do you think is more expensive for Google, having a pool/gym downstairs or having their employees leave the campus and drive 30-45 minutes to find a place to work out? By keeping its employees on its campus, they waste less time, have more energy and are all around just happier. (are you starting to see a theme?)

freelance company culture google gym

 

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

Obviously, Google understands that exercise and health and wellness are hugely important to employee well-being. You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym or pool either. You could go for a walk, or bike ride or rent a paddle board if you’re near the water. However you exercise, it needs to be consistent and if possible, with others. Having that social aspect play into exercise makes it easier to stick to a routine and us humans just need social interaction.

Remember, as if you needed a reminder, but we freelancers don’t get sick leave, we don’t usually have employees to take over, and our business rests firmly on our shoulders. There I quote I read the other day that I really liked by Robin Sharma.

3. Nap pods for the win

I think cafes need Nap pods so freelancers can grab a quick cat nap while they’re working.

Nap pods, as the name implies, allows Google employees to grab a quick nap throughout the day. According to this article by The Conversation, naps improve “cognitive function, reaction times, short-term memory and even our mood”.

Research also says that those who nap regularly feel more alert after napping than those who only do it occasionally. (read: napping every day is better than napping every once in a while). The idea behind “power naps” or naps lasting 15-20 minutes is that you never enter into deep sleep cycles, so it’s the perfect way to rejuvenate after lunch.

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

Lucky you! You don’t have to spend $10,000 on a nap pad. You’re at home, and I’m guessing your bedroom is no further than 50 ft away from your office. So, why aren’t you taking advantage of it? I nap for 20 minutes every day around 2 PM right after lunch. A quick cat nap for me is like having a cup of coffee after lunch.

Freelance company culture bedroom
Make sure its only 20 minutes though!

And don’t give me that about not having time. I bet you could spare 20 minutes off of social media per day to improve your business and your health. If you really don’t think you have time, leave me a comment below, and we can talk about it.

As a freelancer, you have the ability to make our own schedule. With all the proven benefits of taking a quick snooze, why wouldn’t you schedule it into our daily plan?

4. Mission Statement/Vision Statement

Google’s Vision statement: “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Google’s Mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

100% of Fortune 500 companies have mission and vision statements, but why? Let’s take a quick look at exactly what they’re meant to represent. A vision statement, according to this Clear Voice article is that:

A vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become.

A mission statement focuses on today and what the organization does.

For example, the mission statement is how you do what you do. For Google, that’s organizing the world’s information. For designers maybe it’s using color pallets to improve brand awareness. Maybe for developers maybe that’s creating apps to help people save time throughout their day. However you do what you do, that’s your mission statement.

Freelance company culture vision statement
Google put their mission statement at the top of their About page

A vision statement, on the other hand, is the why behind what you do, or the end goal of your business. For Google that is providing the world’s information in only one click. For us freelancers it will probably be a bit smaller. For a freelance translator, it could be to provide translations, that when read, no one can tell they’re translated (or something like that).

Do you have a mission and vision statement for your company?

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

These two statements are there to give you direction in a noisy world. There will be jobs, possibly good jobs, that you might have to say no to. Anything that doesn’t push you toward your vision statement is essentially a waste of time.

Without having these statements, it’s very easy to lose your way just like not having a specific goal when you workout makes it much easier to stop working out. If there’s no end in sight, these generic ideas we call goals quickly become overwhelming and you give up.

A mission and vision statement will help you stay pointed in the right direction and stay on track during your workday. If you’re having trouble with decision making or prioritisation, these statements should help focus you on what’s really important and where you should spend your time.

Hint: Grab a cheap whiteboard from Staples or Amazon and write them down and hang it in your office so you see it every day. You could frame a print if you really wanted to as well. If you’re stuck on creating vision statement ideas, check out this article by Blender on Best examples of Company Vision and Mission Statements

5. Different Work Environments

Google is famous for having “campuses” and not office buildings like the majority of companies. Google has these compounds that come with gyms, cafes, gardens, rooftop views, swings, lounges, etc. This, as we’ve come to learn, is on purpose. Google doesn’t do anything by accident.

Freelance company culture Google gardens

As you can see in the photos, Google gives its employees many different work environments. Some people hate working at a desk and can’t focus with a ton of other people around. Others love to sit outside in the fresh air and some like working in open spaces. At Google, it’s employees can pick and choose where they want to work on any given day.

Freelance company culture Google cafe

Google does this because, according to this article from Hi-line coffee, a change in scenery can leave you feeling energized, awake, and out of a rut. You also get the chance to socialise and broaden your network. This is exactly what Google is looking for. It wants ideas bouncing off new ears and people who don’t normally interact can talk to each other and broaden the perspective and knowledge of their employees.

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

If you’re feeling stuck with your work. You productivity or creativity just isn’t there today. Changing your environment and stimuli can make you see things in a whole different light.

Go meet some new friends!

Being cramped up in your home office all day can become very lonely, very quickly. A change of scenery can be great for your mental health. If you’re really into this you should check out my article, 10 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle While Working at Home, where I discuss coworking spaces and how having others to bounce ideas off of can be very cathartic for freelancers.

6. Nutrition

Google is well-known for giving their employees free food throughout the day.  In an article by Serious Eats, they talk about just how good the food is at Google. One thing the author, Trevor Felch, mentions is portion sizes, and he says,

A company that thrives on its innovative energy needs its employees to be buzzing, not leaving lunch feeling overstuffed and sluggish.”

Something else I took away, and from what you can see in these photos, is that Google serves “healthy” food. I’m sure there are places to get pizza and burgers and things like that but the majority of the photos that I’ve seen have been elaborate, well-portioned, healthy meals. That’s a big takeway.

Obviously for Google, as they mention in that Serious Eat article, having tired employees after lunch is a waste of time and resources. Another thing that Google gains from all of this is the amount of time their employees save by not having to make lunch in the morning, wash dishes, go out to lunch and drive. Like the gym, having this on their campuses saves time and money for both employees and the company.

How to use it in your own freelance company culture:

Obviously, the perks for Google about saving employee time probably won’t help in your 1-person freelance business. However, not eating too much and feeling sluggish after lunch is a huge perk. A tip I’ve picked up from Everyday Health is to make your own single-serving packs.

“Re-portion bulk quantities of favorite foods such as pasta, rice, and cereal into individual portions in zipper bags so that when you’re in the mood for some food, you’ll instantly see the number of portions you’re preparing”

freelance company culture fruit stand packagin
Look! They already come organized

 

This trick can be used for most things as well. Also, Organize Yourself Skinny teaches you how to prepare a weeks worth of food in one afternoon. Preparing you weeks lunches in advance will save you from both decision fatigue and making poor food choices throughout the week while saving you time and energy in your workday.

Do you have a positive freelance company culture?

Google has been known for its perks and benefits since it opened its doors in ’98 and that is one of the main reasons that it has attracted some of the best talent in Silicon Valley. Obviously, they’re not the only company to value employee well-being, as I could have easily done this with Facebook, Hubspot, Bain and Company and many more large companies (maybe I will).

So my question to you is this, if some of the biggest/most successful companies in the world understand the importance of having, healthy, happy employees, why is it there’s a culture of Freelancers who pride themselves on sleeping very little and working their fingers to the bone?

Freelance company culture happy worker

 

I thought we chose this lifestyle to get away from the grind and to spend time on things we loved doing besides working? It might be time we all took a look at how we could improve our freelance company culture a bit.

Do you have a freelance company culture for your business? Do you have any other recommendations to improve the company culture for those who work from home?

 

 

6 Replies to “6 Things to Steal from Google to Improve your Freelance Company Culture”

  1. Perfect compilation of perks that the best large companies provide and small companies can copy! Thanks Andrew.

    1. Hey Ron!
      The pleasure is mine! That’s exactly what I was going for. I hope you found something that was useful. Take care!

  2. So, I kind of want to change career paths and work for Google now . . .

    On a serious note, I really enjoyed this article. It reminded me of a few things I need to take more seriously, and some helpful suggestions on how to go about doing that. It’s nice to know that my 20 minute power nap after lunch isn’t just a waste of time. But I especially appreciated your comments on mission and vision statements. A few years ago I did quite a bit of research into the subject, but, somehow, you managed to give the most useful explanation of mission and vision statements that I have ever found!

    1. Hey Shannah!

      Google does sound like a pretty sweet place to work! I’ve been told it’s more than a little high stress and obviously very competitive. The slide and gardens would be cool though. My 20 minute power nap is the only reason I do anything after lunch. I’m glad you were able to find something useful and if you ever have any questions, please, let me know. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. These are some great ideas for improving your freelance “company culture”. Taking proper care of your health and giving yourself time to relax and rejuvenate are essential to working effectively. Doing fun activities and working in different environments also help us to think creatively and come up with new ideas. I like to work in a variety of different locations for that reason.
    The greatest perk of working from home is the freedom to choose how we spend our time, so we definitely should be taking advantage of that freedom.

    1. Bailey,

      You’re absolutely spot on on everything you mentioned! I love working from home, in pajamas, in cafes, switching up the routine. It makes a world of difference when compared to working in an office. Thank you for stopping by and your well thought out comment! Happy Freelancing!

      Andrew

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