Most people have heard rumors of YouTube’s giant red slide inside their office building, but that does not compare to the Google umbrella that its under. Yes, Google of course does have their own indoor slide, but honestly that’s not even the best part.
Note: Photography was not allowed inside the buildings during this tour, but I will do my best to tell you all about the amazing perks that come with being a Google employee. Also, specific names were left out of this article for security reasons and anonymity.
A Google employee could practically live at work, which is why Google HQ is sometimes referred to as a campus. It is like an upgraded version of college where, instead of someone paying them to use their facilities, they pay their employees.
Google HQ is large enough to be its own city, one would need either a car or bike to get around from building to building. Of course, driving a car around at work just to get to lunch can be a hassle, but don’t worry, Google provides plenty of alternatives. At GHQ, there are G-Bikes: Google’s eco-friendly and free bikes. These are restricted to employees only, and if they are ever taken off-campus, the user can be arrested. On the bright side, there are thousands of these bikes that an employee can just pick up and ride off across campus. There is no need to reserve or lock these bikes, because there are plenty of them to go around. At every building is a designated area for G-Bike parking. On workdays, these lots are filled with bikes parked all over the place, sometimes even flowing out of the space and onto the sidewalks.
But if one did not feel like riding a bike on a particularly hot or lazy day, there is always another option: the Google taxi. Just request one and they will be ready to pick you up in minutes. Google taxis will take someone anywhere on campus, and is completely free. Passengers do not need to tip drivers either, since they are all coworkers there, technically.
Moving along, Google really wants its employees to be constantly working together to build and create new ideas for the company, so in order for those employees to do so comfortably, Google provides what college students would see as regular study areas: conference areas. There are different chairs and tables in all kinds of shapes littered across campus, mostly looking like beach chairs. There are multiple designated conference areas where people can sit, chat, and work on new projects together. There is no excuse about not having a good place to do your work, since there are plenty both indoors and outdoors.
There is also no excuse while exercising or getting from one place to another. Google employees are able to have meetings even while bicycling to lunch. Google provides conference bikes, where up to seven people can be bicycling all together (with one person steering the vehicle in the right direction). There is even a hiking trail going all the way up to the bay.
Conference bikes. (PC: Author)
Now enough about transportation, that was just the beginning of the journey. At GHQ, employees never have to pack breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There is a rule that Google is determined to fulfill, which is that if an employee walks 120 steps anywhere, he or she will find free food whether it is a break room or a cafeteria. Break rooms supply drinks ranging from carbonated water, soda, coffee, and teas. They also have baskets of fruit laid out and shelves of cookies and chips which are refilled constantly throughout the day. There are juice and smoothie bars as healthy drink alternatives as well, a nice treat from the typical sugary and carbonated drinks.
As for the cafeterias, which is all-you-can-eat all day long, including to-go meals, choices range from Japanese, Mexican, and even fine dining. If employees cannot decide what to eat for the day, there is a place with multiple cultural choices at the main Google buildings. Inside the cafeterias, long touchscreen tablet-tables greet employees with the menu for the day.
But knowing Google, simply providing free all-you-can-eat food is not enough. They even have free cooking classes. There is a room with glass walls and state-of-the-art cooking stations laid out for each Google employee-student. It looks just like a stage for a five-star-chef’s cooking competition.
“They teach us how to cook some really cool stuff here such as BBQ ribs,” our guide said. “And sometimes we can eat the foods that students cook too.”
Everyday there are famous local food trucks right outside the buildings in addition to the buffets. Employees get free truck-foods that can range from the normal greasy hot-dogs to korean beef and sashimi burritos. There is typically no limit to what you can eat. Just let Google handle the bill.
To be honest though, not everything can be free, even if someone did work for Google (sadly). However, Google does make a lot of things more convenient for you, like hair cuts. They have a truck that employees can just walk into without an appointment and ask for a hair cut in the middle of the day. Who knew?
Employees can also get an oil change for their car. Instead of going to an oil change shop, at Google they go straight to your car.
Now back to the idea of a “campus:” Google has “study areas,” “dining halls,” and now clubs (not the flashy types). For example, they have a cat club where members can collect stray cats from around the neighborhood and take care of them on campus. Of course, all cat bills are taken care of by Google. How thoughtful.
There are gyms too. One for working out, and one for amazing massages and ice baths. After a long day at work, employees can simply pop in for their daily free massages, and go home completely relaxed. Honestly they might not even want to go home after getting so much first-class treatment. Maybe that’s the point.
Some people get reprimanded or fired for sleeping at work, but at Google, it is almost no surprise that there is an official Nap Room. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, there is a room-plaque outside that says “Nap.” Inside this room, behind the curtain of privacy, is an actual nap pod. The napper would lay down and get into a comfortable position and pull the pod-cover over his or her head, creating a protective metal bubble and blocking out the light. As a plus, they can put in some relaxing music like the sound of ocean waves or birds chirping in a tropical rain forest, anything to help them sleep. For the next fifteen minutes of their break, they can nap peacefully and comfortably, undisturbed. Amazing.
Around 10,000 Google employees get this kind of treatment almost everyday of the week. For most of them, having these kinds of services have become normal. For us, working here seems like a dream; if only every work place were this nice, work would feel more like a paid vacation, and “nice” doesn’t even cover it.
Too bad unofficial visitors are not allowed, so you cannot just wander in and think you are going to blend into one of the crowds at their nice cafeterias. If security catches you wandering around without a badge, you’re out. Make sure you keep that badge clipped onto you at all times while you are there. As for me, I will be keeping mine as a free souvenir.