I was lucky enough recently to visit the Google offices in London, through a Housemark Digital Futures event.
So, what can I say about my visit to Google? If I could sum it up in just one word, it would be amazing.
The visit itself was everything I hoped it would be. I got to hear from Lyndon Fraser from Google for Work, along with Duncan Farley and Dan Sullivan from Ancoris (who are a Google for Work partner organisation) who held a quick interactive session in Google’s ‘Tech Talk’ Transformation Lab. I also got to meet up and network with other housing staff with digital responsibility, including Paul Taylor and Tom Hartland from Bromford Labs who gave a presentation in the afternoon on ‘how to build an innovation lab’.
As we were not able to look around the offices (as if was felt it would be too disruptive), we got to look around the 9th floor of their offices, complete with a ‘Green Room’, their on-site Gym, ‘La La Library’ (which was genuinely quiet enough to hear a pin drop, despite several staff working in there at the time), outdoor space which wrapped around two sides of the building, a big staff cafe called ‘Cafe Royal’ which was absolutely packed with staff and a massive room called ‘Google Town Hall’ where they hold staff meetings of 100 staff or more.
Other things I noticed include:
- The offices were bright, light and colourful;
- They clearly do things differently to most organisations;
- They have a very clear ‘Google’ brand to everything they do;
- They all dress in casual clothes at work, but no-one was scruffily dressed;
- Staff who work at Google are actually referred to as ‘Googlers’ (and refer to themselves as Googlers);
- The food for Googlers is ‘free’ and covers breakfast and lunch;
- There were various staff snack points throughout the offices with all healthy free snacks;
- The main cafe even had two staff serving ice cream for Googlers;
- Googlers have the freedom to go wherever they want in the building and use any of the collaborative rooms (as long as they have their pass);
- We even saw a Googler using one of the Sleeping Pods, presumably catching a quick power nap!
It’s always hard to describe the culture of an organisation, but the Google culture was pretty much as I expected, albeit from one day’s visit.
It felt like an open, exciting and inspiring place to work, with a core focus on working collaboratively, not only on digital and technological solutions and advancement, but on keeping the solutions as simple and user friendly as possible.
For a digital techie person like me, it really was hard to leave at the end of the day!