The benefits of working at Google are even bigger and better than we could have imagined.Google engineer Steve Yegge just posted a long account of all the amazing things Google does for employees. And even after having read two books on Google, and closely following the company for years we were blown away by what we read.
Yegge works at the Google Kirkland, Washington office. While it’s awesome there, Yegge says it’s even better at other Google offices.
We’ve summed up some of the best, most envy-worthy things Google offers.
'In our three little buildings here we have three cafeterias, at least six or eight kitchen areas filled with free snacks, two espresso cafes staffed with barristas, a 1950s-style dessert bar, a frozen yogurt machine with a self-serve toppings bar, probably a dozen fridges filled with free drinks, a weekly Farmer's Market all summer where you can take home huge bags of locally-grown veggies, and every Friday afternoon, long tables of themed hors d'oeuvres and beer and wine while we watch TGIF. Am I forgetting anything? I'm sure I am.
And the food is good. One of our chefs was the Executive Chef at the Earth and Ocean restaurant in the W hotel in downtown Seattle, and the other one had equally impressive credentials. The cafe in my building, Sudo Cafe, has a DIY burger bar, daily entree selections, a pizza bar, a sandwich bar and panini press, a rotisserie, a salad bar, a fruit bar, two daily soup selections, a vegetarian and vegan selection, and random bowls of fruit and cakes and all sorts of other stuff lying around to tempt you.'
'There's free underground parking, but there aren't quite enough spots. So they have a free valet service. The valets park your car and bring your keys up to your office later in the day.'
'The decor at Google is colourful and makes the whole place feel more fun. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal. Who cares about the decor, right? But I've worked in typical cube-farm companies, and there's something magical about Google's decor. I've been to Microsoft a few times, too. Their decor is opulent and fancy, like going to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Google's decor is more like walking into an FAO Schwartz toy store.'
'The cafe in our newest building has a nautical theme. It has hardwood floors the colour of a boat deck, and big rope spools turned sideways into tables, and portholes that look through a hallway decorated with ship-deck furniture onto a huge wall mural of downtown Seattle. Oh, and there are boats. I gave my brother Mike and his friend Jay a tour of the place over the weekend, and Jay was trying really hard not to be impressed. He started to crack when he saw the gym, but it was the boats that finally got him.
'How did they get them IN here?' was Mike's question. Mike's got his own construction company and has worked with heavy equipment, and all he could do was marvel at these big frigging boats on the second floor. They're these, I dunno, roofed gondola-looking boats with leather bench-seats. They're there so you can have an impromptu meeting on a boat, or work on your laptop on a boat, or just hang out on a boat and have some espresso and soak up that nice boat feeling, I guess.'
'There's a super nice 24-hour gym, and lush real plants everywhere, and a doctor's office with a full-time Google doctor, and a haircut place where the Corporate Cuts lady comes by a few times a week.'
'There's a climbing wall, and pool tables, and foosball tables, and a bunch of $5000 fancy massage chairs with incomprehensible Japanese instructions.'
'Oh, and there's a massage salon with three or four licensed massage therapists. That's a Google tradition. Ours is subsidized down to practically no cost for an hour-long table massage. And there are prayer rooms, and a basketball court, and a dog park with Google-coloured fire hydrants to pee on, and breast-feeding rooms for new mums, and electric-car spots, and a red British phone booth that I assume is for changing into superhero costumes, and gigantic oversized lava lamps, and comfy couches around roaring fireplaces, and a photo booth, and a bike cage with a tool bench and an air compressor, and hammocks and bean-bag chairs, and a room-length shuffleboard table, and three or four game rooms with air hockey and ping-pong and XBoxes and Wiis and arcade games with thousands of titles, and on and ON and ON.'
Yegge wanted Google to buy a guitar for employees to play around with. Google decided to just build a huge music studio instead
'Amazing True Story: One day I started getting jealous of this digital piano that people were playing every day. So I sent a nice email to someone in facilities asking if there was any chance we might be able to get a guitar. She said it sounded like a good idea and she promised to look into it.
A month went by, and I started to get a little sad, because I thought they were just not interested. But I sent her a little email and asked if there was any update. Just hoping, you know, against hope.
She told me: 'Oh yeah, I'm sorry -- I forgot to tell you. We talked it over with the directors, and we all decided the best thing to do was to build a music studio.'
So now we have Soundgarden over in Building A. It has two rooms: one with soundproofing and two electric guitars and a bass and a keyboard and a drum set and a jam hub and amps and all kinds of other crap that I can't identify except to say that it's really popular. The other room has a ukulele and some sort of musical drum and a jazz guitar and some other classical instruments.'
'Every year we have a company morale trip. One year they put us up for the night at the Whistler ski resort, including a fancy bus ride there and back, a fancy hotel room, free rental equipment and lift tickets, free lessons if we wanted them, and of course a massive party with a live band and giant dinner and open bar and a chocolate fountain and mechanical bull and whatnot. You know, the usual.
Actually +Adam de Boor tells me I missed some stuff. He went dogsledding, and you could alternately go snowmobiling or get spa treatments or choose some other options we've both forgotten now. Psh. That was so last year.'
'This year we had two trips -- you could pick whichever one you liked better. Half of us went skiing overnight and the other half went to Vegas. I went skiing, but I heard Vegas was pretty awesome. As you might expect.
But regardless of which trip you picked, everyone got to go to a Vegas 'practice night' a few weeks before the trip. They set up a casino in the cafeteria, catered by some local company that provides tables and dealers. The dealers gave lessons to anyone who wanted to learn to play craps or poker or blackjack or roulette. Craps is frigging complicated, so I went and played poker until I was too drunk to see my cards anymore, and went and crashed on a couch upstairs. I do remember at one point some guy pushed all his chips at me and left, even though he hadn't lost or anything. I didn't even see who it was, but if it was you -- thanks!'
Every summer we have a company picnic, and you can bring your whole family. Last summer they had hiking and golf and horseback riding and rafting and carnival games and rides and huge outdoor barbecues and who knows what else. They pretty much had me at 'golf', so I didn't pay much attention to the other attractions.'
Every Friday Google holds an all-hands meeting where you can ask questions of the founders and Google VPs
'There is a site where you can submit questions for that week's TGIF, and vote questions up or down. So by the time TGIF rolls around, the top questions are the really burning ones that everyone wants answered. And you can ask about anything. They even take live questions from an open mic in the audience. And there's always beer and wine, so the live questions tend to be rather pointed and direct, at least when they're intelligible.'
'Google also has random other parties and offsites all the time. We all go bowling every now and then, and they take us all to movie premieres when something extra cool comes out (anything from Harry Potter to An Inconvenient Truth), and we sometimes just go down to the lake and have a catered lunch at the pavilion when the weather is nice.'
'Sometimes we get fancy gifts for no apparent reason. Last year we all got 'Fireswords', which are these insanely bright $400 flashlights that we had to sign waivers for because they can actually blind you.'
'A couple years in a row we got Android phones. I'm still using my latest one. I don't think there's any guarantee that we'll get a holiday gift every year, but so far they've seen fit to give us all gifts, and I don't hear anyone complaining.'
'Are there downsides? Sure. A few. The food can make you fat. The environment can make you spoiled. The smart people around you can give you Degree Envy. Some people don't do well with the lack of structure, since it's geared towards self-motivated people who figure out what to work on. You can even wind up on a project that's got a little too much heat on it, and be briefly miserable -- but compared to daily life at most companies, that misery is pretty well soaked in sugar frosting.'