Building a great place to work is not necessarily about a funky building, cool furniture or toys for grown ups.

Playful officeOnce in a while, browsing the infinite and marvelous world of the Internet I came across a blog post of how wonderful Facebook’s, Google’s or Zappo’s offices are.

These offices look amazing compared to big corporate and government offices or to the hundreds of cubicles at call centers.  Facebook offices even have their own bar and gaming zone; they hang yellow blocks from Mario Bros on the ceiling and everything seems so natural. At Google, they have a big screen that shows every search query made on their powerful site. I went there and stared at that thing for about five minutes without thinking in anything else.  At Zappos, every one gets to customize their own cubicle, and, I tell you now, a kid would love more a visit Zappos than a Toy-R-Us store.

Dont believe me? Just Google them.

Delivering Happiness

Facebook, Google and Zappos, among others, have proven that “delivering happiness” to their employees boosts productivity because everyone loves being at work.  If they get tired, they can relieve stress with a short ping-pong game or a quick nap at a comfy sofa nearby.

Word has spread all across the Internet and now every “cool” company is buying Xbox360/Wii/Play Stations for their employees.  They’re buying 50-inch TVs and complete sets of Rockband for you to play with your geek friend at work.

But we can’t forget what is it that makes a company unique, and that is its culture.  We can’t go around buying all this cool things and expect that they work just like they did at Google or Facebook.  Every company is built around its people and people make decisions, people have feelings, likes and dislikes.  In my entire life, I’ve never met a person identical to another, not even twins.  Therefore, building the ultimate place to work is not as easy as stacking the place full of toys.  Every company is different and has a different culture, a culture that emerges from its people.  You can’t force culture.

A company needs to listen and learn from everybody. It needs to come together as a company.  The cool gadgets comes later, as symbols that reflect such an amazing and bright culture.