Any business would love an insight into how Google is so successful and, while many might think the tech giant is a world away, one of its employees Meaghan Rogers was at the Nottingham Digital Summit to pass on tips from the Google workplace that any company could follow
It’s one of the biggest and most influential businesses in the world – but the seeds of all its brightest ideas are sown in the Google workplace.
From the internet’s most popular search engine and an unrivalled advertising strategy to driverless cars and artificial intelligence, Google is at the forefront of almost any current and emerging trend.
The $90bn company is renowned for having one of the most enviable working environments on the planet for its circa-90,000 employees, with a culture that is designed to encourage creativity and collaboration.
Meaghan Rogers, an agency development manager at its European headquarters in Dublin, gave an insight into the Google workplace during a talk at the Nottingham Digital Summit.
She collaborates with 10 of the top Google premier partners, a badge of honour awarded to less than 10% of digital marketing agencies that are the highest performing, including the conference’s organiser Hallam Internet.
Here’s some of the things we found out about the company almost every other business would love to emulate.
Inside the Google workplace: Innovation doesn’t just pop up overnight
There was a time when Google ranked alongside the likes of Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves in the search engine world but innovation blew away the competition to set Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s internet behemoth apart from its rivals.
But where does this inspiration come from?
Meaghan says: “Innovation is one of those indefinable qualities – it’s not something that appears overnight.
“It’s a culture. When I think about innovation, there’s a couple of different ways in which the team culture is run to encourage it.
“One is giving freedom to your teams. It’s not uncommon for a member of staff to work on a “20% project”, where 20% of your time can be spent in a completely different part of the business.
“Someone working in cloud could go spend time in events – as long as it doesn’t affect your core role, you have the freedom to see other parts of the business.”
Another tip from Meaghan is that “sharing is everything” across the company.
“My motto is ‘steal with pride’. We have connected Google globally.
“I can see what my colleagues in Australia and New Zealand are working on and steal them.
“Everyone says ‘yes’ to everything and we all share with each other. It’s a nice mentality and the idea is to compare ideas so you can steal with pride – that way you’re never starting with a blank sheet but have a starting point to go on.”
Inside the Google workplace: Put technology away during brainstorming sessions – and have a “can do” attitude
It might sound a bit hypocritical from the company that is at least partly responsible for making us so dependent on and addicted to tech, but Meaghan suggests actually recommends getting rid of tech when it comes to colleagues bouncing ideas off each other.
“This is something simple that anyone could do when you’re doing your next brainstorming session,” she says.
“Put all your laptops, tablets and phones away – as well as your pens and paper – and start snowballing ideas.
“Everyone has to say ‘yes and…’ then come up with an idea against someone else’s suggestion, so there’s no room for negativity at all.
“So many of us are so dependent on our laptops and smartphones that we don’t have the time to think creatively.
“We insist that our clients come to our office. We’ll say that one is allowed to check their phones or emails and for the next two hours we’re only going to think about this project.
“It’s something you can easily bring into any business, even if you’re just putting everything away for 10 to 20 minutes and only focus on the task at hand.”
Inside the Google workplace: How to make it at the tech giant
Being noticed by a company like Google isn’t just about computer science degrees and an ability to speak several languages.
For Meaghan, she believes real world experience counts for a lot and it was something she picked up while working in social media at an agency and as a digital marketing manager at Deloitte after studying fashion journalism at university.
She says: “Learn as much as you can. I have no degree in digital marketing – everything I learned was on the job, from being in a really low paid role at an agency to now being at Google.
“Real world experience trumps everything.”
Inside the Google workplace: What’s new at Google?
Google Attribution, which is expected to be fully ready next year, could be a game-changer in marketing, says Meaghan.
The monitoring programme will link with Google Analytics to attribute value to advertising spend through AdWords and improve return on investment (ROI).
“It’s hopefully going to be the solution we’re all hoping and praying for to attribute value to the consumer journey through all global traffic,” she says.
Another feature she calls “YouTube for performance” will leverage keywords that people search in Google to filter back to YouTube – and vice-versa, giving advertisers another platform.
Inside Google workplace: Speed is crucial for businesses
As with most things, smartphones will hold the key to what else comes forward – but businesses must be prepared.
Meaghan says: “The smartphone is 10 years old. From an advertisers’ point of view, there’s more opportunities than ever before because we use our phone so much.
“You have to be user-centric in your approach to everything, so offering services across multiple platforms.
“The new super-powered consumer is more demanding than ever before and mobile phone speed impacts on the user.
“If your site takes more than two or three seconds, or longer, to load then you’ll lose 54% of your visitors straight away – and half of those will never return.
“So does a brand loyalty actually exist anymore? If you’re going to buy some shoes or a cinema ticket, how long do you wait now?
“If you can’t get what you want then you’ll go somewhere else.”