MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Much more important is just making a connection and being accessible

In this rather remarkable article about Google's 8-Point Plan to help managers improve are insights that make me wonder why corporate leadership perpetuates traditional and conventional workplace planning and design. With the analysis of data from an extraordinary 10,000 observations about managers, Google derived "rules" and guidelines for management training and development. Rising to the top over many conventional assumptions abut management were core principles about relationships between bosses and staff. For example, in examining why people leave an organization, Google discovered that managers have a much greater influence on employee performance and engagement than any other factor.

"Google's Rules" do not directly provide criteria for planning and design. Their implications however can serve as a guide to planning wherever similar principles of management apply.

What kind of office environment do you believe best serves to support, nurture, encourage and facilitate –

  • Providing specific, constructive feedback, which seems dependent on observation and timeliness of response
  • Having regular one-on-ones, which seems to want informal, spontaneous, contextual opportunity
  • Giving freedom but being available for advice, which seems to challenge the core concept of management planning – the door
  • Getting to know your employees as people seem to argue for the social rather than the formal workplace
  • Focusing on removing the roadblocks to achievement, which seems to argue for openness and accessibility
  • Supporting communicating in both directions, which seems to support concepts of openness, accessibility, visibility, reduced trappings of hierarchy, and informality
  • Helping with career development, which also seems to ask for visibility and spontaneity
  • Rolling up your sleeves and conducting work side by side with the team, an extraordinary insight, seems to suggest a leveling of workplace accommodation

I liked best the observation of Laszlo Bock, Google's chief people person, who said that one of the most important factors in the success of managers and teams is "just making that connection and being accessible."

Look around your office. If you share a belief in these principles, how do you see them experienced in your workplace? What specific components of your workplace inhibit these principles and actions? What specific components of your workplace support these principles and actions?

Most importantly, what aspects of your workplace support the principle and practice of just making a connection and being accessible?