It’s BarcampLondon3 - I’m sat on a very large bean bag in the atrium at Google’s UK Headquarters. It’s all too comfortable.
Google is famous for its working environment. Tales of the early days at the googleplex abound – gourmet chefs, roller hockey, beanbags and so on. I suppose it’s become more commonplace now but back in ’99 when I first heard tell of these things, I was surprised to say the least. Especially as I counted myself lucky to get dial up at the time.
Across the atrium from where I sit on the £800 bean bag is a kitchen with all manner of food and drink for the taking. Yes, Googlers want for very little it seems.
OK, it’s not like they’re hard up or anything… $10.6bn last year – they can afford the free espresso.
There is an abundance of whiteboards (all wiped clean before we arrived, top secret stuff here, you see) and also an abundance of meeting rooms all named after great thinkers. Berners-Lee, Newton, Hawking, Magellan all get namechecks here.
The open plan offices are decorated as eccentrically as you might imagine. There are traditional red phoneboxes for private calls, mannequins dressed in Google hats and the occaisional brightly coloured arrow pointing to the “Googler of the week” who presumably sits beneath it with an inward grin of satisfaction.
On the one hand, these things could just be fluff, but in much the same way that a persons house tells you a great deal about them, a workplace says similar things. Perhaps the most powerful of these was the scribble on the kitchen whiteboard:
“Still loving you Google.. Despite you driving me crazy, Still loving you…”