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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hell with a smile

Working for Google

At Google it always comes back to the food. Google runs 11 free gourmet cafeterias at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, and offers all its employees free gourmet meals.

In addition to its cafés, Google has snack rooms which contain various cereals, candy, nuts, yogurt, carrots, fresh fruit and other snacks, and dozens of different drinks including soda and make-your-own cappuccino. Says co-founder Sergey Brin: "The cafés have always been pretty healthy, but the snacks are not, and the efforts to fix that have been remarkably challenging." Though company lore has it that Brin and co-founder Larry Page believe no worker should be more than 150 feet from a food source, clearly not all food is equal. "A lot of people like their M&Ms. But the easy access is actually what's bad for them," he says.

Of course, when it comes to America's new Best Company to Work For, the food is, well, just the appetizer.


Spring cleaning
Google takes the work-life balance to a new level. A Googler who's pressed for time can get plenty of errands done while at work. Employees can do laundry for free in company washers and dryers (free detergent too) or drop off dry cleaning.

Among Google's many other conveniences offered to its employees: a workout room with weights and rowing machine, locker rooms, a massage room, child care, onsite notaries, car services and five onsite doctors available for employee checkups, free of charge.

The Google campus is a pet-friendly facility, and dogs are allowed on a temporary basis.

Though having dogs around can brighten up the workplace, Google managament realizes it can cause problems as well. From Google's Dog Policy: "Aggressive behavior, such as growling, barking, chasing or biting, is unacceptable and the pet will have to be taken home on the first complaint. Employees with allergic reactions to dogs may ask the owner to refrain from bringing the dog to the workplace if the presence of the dogs makes it difficult for the allergic employee to work. Pets with evidence of fleas will be asked to go home until the problem has been alleviated. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after pets at all times."


Search and enjoy
Life for Google employees at the Mountain View campus is like college. It feels like the brainiest university imaginable - one in which every kid can afford a sports car (though geeky hybrids are cooler here than hot rods).

Here the shabbily dressed engineers always will be the big men (and, yes, women) on campus. "Hard-core geeks are here because there's no place they'd rather be," says Dennis Hwang, a Google Webmaster.

Another similarity to college: New Googlers (Nooglers, in Google parlance) tend to pile on the "Google 15" when confronted with all the free food.


Hanging around
Work is such a cozy place that it's sometimes difficult for Google employees to leave the office, which is precisely how the company justifies the expenses, none of which it breaks out of its administrative costs.

Even people who don't work here like to loiter: The company has become a stop on the world lecture circuit, attracting the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus. "You've got to ask yourself why these people are coming here," says 24-year-old engineer Neha Narula. "I think they come here to be energized by the people at Google."

Here's a simple question: if the company does everything for you, why would you have a social life?

Despite all the happy talk, this is hellish. The boundary between your private life and work is demolished. Google calls it perks, but what it really does is keep people working longer hours and compliant to the company's needs, even over their own personal issues.

posted by Steve @ 12:51:00 AM

12:51:00 AM

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