Googleplex - The Google Offices  

by Pool Builders on 05-24-2010 in Articles

I'd like to think my staff enjoys working at Refresh, but after reading a recent article showcasing the Google campus earlier today; I feel our employee benefits package may be woefully inadequate. The article focused on the Googleplex complex just outside of San Francisco bay and forms the headquarters for one of the most powerful companies in the technology industry.

Although comparatively dwarfed by Microsofts Redmond complex, Googleplex currently houses two million square feet of office space with an additional one million feet planned for upcoming expansion. It is home to approximately 8,000 workers and due to the typically young age of its workforce it has been likened to a college campus.

Looking purely at the physical characteristics, the Google complex includes:

- A number of free cafes that will serve food at any time of the day; these cafes between them serve over 200 different recipes a day. It has been estimated by several sources that the cost of running these must amount to approximately 72 million dollars yearly.

- Additionally, there are free snack rooms in most buildings in case the nearest cafe is just too far.

- If the free snacking has made you pile on the pounds, Googleplex houses a gym, swim in place swimming pools (small pools where a current keeps you in place whilst you swim against it), volleyball courts and organised rollerblading tournaments.

- A free barber is available along with subsidised on site massage

- Those with children can benefit from the day care centre

- To let off a little steam employees can partake in a quick game of ping pong, billiards, pool or foosball.

The decoration of the building is also quite unique; it is not unusual to stumble across the odd grand piano, employee created artwork, an inspiration wall or a series of lava lamps. Most of the walls and dividers are made of glass so that rather becoming a labyrinth of cubicles the buildings remain open and light is easily filtered through. A large projector displays real time information of searches currently being performed using the Google search engine along with traffic patterns for the entire Internet which is laid out of a three dimensional globe.

Whilst the size of the campus is physically impressive, I am particularly fascinated surrounding the attitudes towards those that that work for Google. Rather than having a simple hierarchical structure, employees are encouraged to take on several rolls and never to limit themselves to their given job description - rather than being told precisely what to do for the next eight hours they are encouraged to think outside the box and designate themselves work. Google actively encourages their employees to use up to 20 percent of their working week of projects outside of their normal workload - over the years these pet projects have developed in to many of the products I have recommended in Click.

From what I have seen, working at Google would appear to be a way of life and not a simple nine to five - encouraging free thinking and teamwork has resulted in a group of people that have a genuine passion for what they do. Rather than requiring a constant whip from a condescending manager, the personal development, mutual respect and encouragement these people enjoy has resulted in a huge degree of self motivation which in turn has created one of the most successful companies of our generation.

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