Real Estate Lessons California Businesses Can Learn from the New Google Headquarters

The new Google Headquarters will somehow be even more impressive than the current one. Image from Wikimedia Commons user Durova.

In the 1990s, Gatorade had a ridiculously catchy and overwhelmingly popular campaign jingle called “Be Like Mike,” about wanting to be like Michael Jordan, even if just for a day. Anyone who ever dribbled a basketball wanted to be him, of course, and kids my age would sing it to themselves as they attempted layups in the driveway. It was aspirational, albeit impossible. However, the point was to try–learning his lessons about hard work and drive could pay off, even if you wouldn’t be quite like Mike.

It’s the same way with Google. Chances are your business isn’t going to be a world-swallowing behemoth like the Mountain View giant–but you can learn lessons from their success in many ways. One of the least-remarked-upon but most interesting ways is in real estate, exemplified by the proposed new Google Headquarters. Google has been very smart with its real estate, and can offer lessons for companies who wish to be like Google.

Lessons from the Google Headquarters:

Grow As You Need To, Not Just As You Want

It is somewhat amazing that Google is just now building a new headquarters. This will just be their second new HQ–they moved into Mountain View in 1998 with a half-dozen employees, built the famous Googleplex several years later, and are now creating a whole new complex. Even as they became impossibly profitable, Google didn’t jump from area to area or from building to building. They waited until they needed to, and didn’t let the cash flow dictate their moves. Their moves were dictated by ability.

The Lesson: You don’t want to forsake growth and be reined in, but you also don’t want to have empty and wasted spaces in a new office, or lose any stability. Too many companies rent new offices as soon as they are able, seeing it as a sign of growth. Waiting for the right time can get you even more choice real estate. With Bay Area real estate prices so high, jumping into things in the first flush of excitement can be ruinous.

Understand the Community

Google has a slight problem with its newest plan–Mountain View isn’t positive it wants the increase in traffic the Google Headquarters might bring, and worries that its development will drive other tech firms, like LinkedIn, out of town. There isn’t much it can do about what other companies want, but it is working to help ease community worries by promoting public transportation, pushing the idea that a new HQ will attract more permanent residents (not ones who commute from San Francisco), and showcasing that it is environmentally friendly. Indeed, Google is taking a lesson from its founding principles of open data by incorporating public spaces and open grounds–making it a part of, not separate from, the community.

The Lesson: Wherever you look for real estate, whether it is a new building or easing into a pre-existing one, you are going to have to understand where you are going. You’ll have to find the right fit for your company culture and ethos. You’ll have to make sure the area works for how your employees get to work each day. If an employee that used to jump on the train now has to take three trains and a bus, they’ll grow resentful. Look at everything before moving.

Your Building Furthers Your Brand

Google didn’t get to where they are by sitting still. Their new HQ concept is a reflection of that. They are using innovative new materials to make it an ecologically-friendly and ground-breaking building. This helps cement their reputation for being a progressive company that never sits still and is never boring. If the stock options and free snacks weren’t enough, this will help attract the best employees.

The Lesson: Know yourself. Are you trying to be a cutting-edge and dynamic new firm? A loft is a great space for that. A more traditional office might suit other businesses. The point is, your space promotes an image to both your employees and customers. When looking for real estate, understand the image you want to project, and find the space that does it.

We can’t all be like Google. It’s the dream of every new business, and most old ones, but its ultimate unattainability doesn’t mean that we can’t incorporate their lessons–at least on a small scale. The new Google Headquarters may not be for everyone, but there is a space that is right for you.

If your business is considering the best way to expand your existing real estate assets to match your company culture and its goals, you don’t have to go it alone. You can get a thorough analysis of your current space and needs from a consultant whose community values align with your own. Contact DCG Real Estate today to learn more.