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April 26, 2006

Workplace infrastructure - whats that got to do with motivation?

Is workplace infrastructure changing from a hygiene factor to a motivator?

This is the question that first came to my find as I toured Googleplex - complete with its volley ball courts, massage parlours, electric scooters to commute between buildings...and other what-have-yous.

While the answer is definitely not of a "yes-no" type - I do have some thoughts on the changing nature of workplace infrastracture:

  • Workplace infrastructure is increasingly seen as an extension of the culture that your provide to your employees. And its not always the simplistic - "bright colours mean vibrant environments", or "cubicleless office = no heirarchy". These ofcourse maybe more straightforward derivations based on what you see, and they may also be turn out to be true. What i mean by workplace infrastructure is the complete package that you provide to your employees, which are aimed at ensuring that he gets taken care of - both as a professional and as a person. And it is often clubbed along with the various other benefits to attract prospective employees.
  • Having said that, mere provision of the infrastructure is not always indicative of commitment or care. Your organization has a gym - but your job never leaves you the time to work out, or your manager has an irritating habit of calling you when you are on your "volley-ball break" - so how much work-life balance is that? And thats why, the link between infrastructure and culture - while it is very much there - is not always direct, as culture runs more deep.
  • Maybe Im wierd - but too many in-house facilities make me feel the company is not going to give me much time off work. Talk about unintended consequences of actions. The first though that crossed my mind when I saw the Google "massage parlours" - "Yeah sure! Might as well..if they're going to stress me out as much!

So....in the final analysis - Would I leave an organization because the quality of the food in the cafeteria sucks? Obviously not! Would I be motivated to join an organization that "demonstrates" its commitment to me as a complete individual? Yes! And if at the end of the day, I still havent used the gym, I'll blame that on my poor time management skills! Read this lovely post on worklife balance and time management


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