Inside Google London: A park, a coffee lab and nightclub-style meeting rooms
Chances are that your office doesn’t have a full-blown cinema, an indoor park, a blue velvet clad band rehearsal room or even a dedicated coffee lab that will let you drink over 19 different blends.
That’s because you don’t work in the Google London office, where the 350 engineers based in the heart of Victoria are beavering away to create the "next big thing".
"The building creates excitement, that's good for us," Nelson Mattoss, Google’s VP for Europe and emerging markets engineering, told Pocket-lint and other journalists when we were invited in for a tour of the newly opened fourth floor at Google's London HQ.
Gone is the focus on open planned offices or cubicles that many companies opt for; in, are a number of small, more intimate, and fun spaces that aim to inspire Googlers to come up with new ideas.
The Google London office has responsibility for areas of some of Google's key products and services like Adsense, Privacy, Maps, Local, Android, Chrome, Voice, and site design. In some cases that responsibility is actually driving the services forward, making sure the engineers in the building stay on top of their game.
Take the velvet lined band room complete with soundproofing, drums, piano, guitars and other instruments that allow even the amateur to hone their skills during down time, it is a karaoke party room in the waiting.
Then there is the pool and games room complete with the latest 60-inch Samsung TV, PS3, Xbox 360 with Kinect and other boxes littered around, all designed to let you blow off steam or release that "light bulb" moment...
When Google staff aren’t enjoying the toys (we noticed, they are encouraged to bring in toys to put on their desk) they get to have meetings in rooms named after famous computers or programming languages of old that look more like nightclubs than boring office space. The cinema-come-lecture-theatre that is clad in red velvet curtains is called Colossus. Others are called Basic, Haskel II, Cobol, and Dart.
To inspire and allow you to note that idea down at anytime, most of the walls are white boards ready to be jotted on, while meeting rooms are more akin to nooks and dens rather than somewhere where you all huddle around a speakerphone for long, boring, conference calls.
Lunch, snacks and coffee in the Star Trek-themed building are important too. Google employees get free food every day whenever they want from the canteen (situated on the 5th floor) and there is always an array of specials on offer including a sushi bar.
But perhaps knowing that Google engineers need extra stimulation, L4, as it is known, features a state of the art coffee lab that has 19 different types of coffee, five specifically designed for Google. The worktops are made from coffee beans set in resin. The attention to detail is amazing.
Of course, once one has taken ownership of the coffee, they can take it in the fake indoor park complete with trees, deck chairs, a rowing boat with oars, and a Winnie the Pooh for good measure - yes he has a Google security pass.
Why all the fuss? Mattoss is hoping that such niceties will allow him and Google to grow the staff from the current 350 to 1000 in the coming years. With engineers so highly sort after the company clearly feels it has to do everything it can to lure the best talent; and once it has them, give them numerous reasons not to leave the building.
"The design was driven and project-managed by our London engineers. It is within informal environments that ideas come out. A relaxed environment is very important to us," adds Mattoss on why he feels the building works so well for those that work there.
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