Creating the “Fun Office” at Google

If you’ve been following Google’s performance since its creation by a whiz kid at Stanford, you would agree with me it has been no less than spectacular.

Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page, a Ph.D student at Stanford.  In only 12 years Google has evolved into the largest and most productive company in the field of information search.  It’s so well known, that the word “Googolize” is now an accepted verb.

Google’s declared code of conduct is “Don’t be evil”,  a phrase which they went so far as to include in their prospectus for their IPO, noting, “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”

Google’s honchos firmly believe that creativity is obtain by surrounding their employees with stimulating mini environments and a fun overall atmosphere.   For example, for Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management at Google, the balance of work and fun is just about right.

A typical workplace at Google will include relaxed areas with a games room, a library in the style of an English country house and an aquarium where over-worked Googlers can lie in a bath full of red foam and gaze at brightly-colored fishes.

There are whiteboards everywhere, allowing ideas to be written down wherever they are thought up and there is a heavy emphasis on the idea that work and play can co-exist.

Engineers at Google are best served, according to Nelson Mattas, vice president of engineering, by both a creative work environment and a flat, open working structure.

At a press day to launch its new research and development center, he explained the serious point behind the “fun office”.

“The lava lamps, free food and games are all part of the Google culture. It is informal and a structure that isn’t dictated from the top,” he said.

Google is the only company that I’m aware of, where employees are given the opportunity to  take 20 percent off their main responsibilities to “go do something new”.   Many Google hit products have hatched from this “free creative time”, like Google News and GMail.

If you want to view a video showing all the exciting mini environment at Google’s new European engineering headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland, please click here.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you jump into your car with a CV in your hand heading to the nearest Google office.  🙂

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