Google's Ultimate Employee Perk: The food

jkom51July 9, 2014

...which yes indeed, is all free, and just as good as everyone says. One of my family was a contractor there for almost two years and was blown out of the water by Google's thirty-odd in-house restaurants. To this day he still raves about them. Some famed local chefs have cut their chops in Google kitchens, going on to open their own restaurants.

Serious Eats got an invite to dine at Google's HQ in Silicon Valley (Northern CA), and wrote it up:

Here is a link that might be useful: Lunch at Google HQ is Insanely Awesome

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dcarch7

There is a downside.

Citicorp in NYC built a high rise office tower in LIC, basically nowhere land. nothing in the area within walking distance. No restaurants or shops.

To encourage employees to move there and work in that building, Citicorp decided to have a restaurant style employee's "cafeteria" complete with waiter service and table clothe. All free to employees.

They had to stop that operation because employees were seriously gaining weight.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:01PM
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cloud_swift

I've eaten at Google when visiting my son. They have plenty of healthy eating choices available and excellent on site recreational facilities too.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:01PM
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jkom51

Yup, you can sleep under your desk, shower after the gym and hang out 24/7 on Google grounds, LOL. If it weren't for the fact there's no brewpubs on site, sometimes I don't think tech workers would ever leave.

Google, btw, has three campuses in Silicon Valley, totaling somewhere around 25 acres or so. Remember, this is an area where 2 acres of land used as a parking lot is worth about $8M. Google's Mountain View holdings have grown to at least 4.2 million square feet and include more than 65 buildings, for approx. 23,000 employees.

Business Insider did a nice photo tour around their main campus. Pretty clear why Google is considered "the best" from an employee standard!

Here is a link that might be useful: Tour Google's Luxurious 'Googleplex' Campus In California

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:15AM
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Cathy_in_PA

Very interesting, jkom51! I didn't read the entire Serious Eats because, quite frankly, I'm extremely hungry!

While I can't vouch for the quality of food, a somewhat corresponding article adds housing, biweekly housekeeping, etc. for interns hired by Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing: "Tech Giants Dangle Cheap Housing, Free Food to Lure Summer Interns."

Wow:)

Cathy in SWPA

Here is a link that might be useful: Intern Perks

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:54PM
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plllog

Wow, indeed, but something to remember is that people clamour to get those internships and they really do lure the very best to them, so they're grooming future employees. The companies' very presence has driven up the cost of housing, etc., in the area to an untenable level. Making it easy for the interns to be there, and spend all their time showing what they've got (i.e., very long job interview) rather than worrying about where they'll get clean underwear from, is helpful to the company. It's not about passing out perks to be cool. It's about getting the most out of the workers.

The same reasoning is behind the Google food. Not only do they want to keep people on campus and not wasting time going out to lunch so they'll work more, and not only do they have an interest in keeping them well and healthily nourished to keep them functioning, but casual meetups and overhearing table conversations in relaxed settings (also in the group rec. activities) can really spark innovation in ways it's impossible to plan for.

That's the thought behind "creative space" office design as well. Rather than compartmenting people to work in a semblance of privacy and isolation, with wireless comm, they're able to untether them from assigned workstations. The workers are encouraged to mingle, talk to each other, take the sun one day, and curl up in a cozy corner another. This also encourages random, fruitful interactions and new ideas from new perspectives.

What they don't want is people feeling like they could do their jobs from anywhere. Telecommuting is great for family life, but without those casual interactions, you don't get nearly as much innovation. Yahoo cancelled work at home time rather authoritatively, trying to address this. Google doesn't tell people not to go home. They just make it really easy not to. They also have things like dry cleaning and other chore errands available on campus. Why sit in traffic and have to park here and there when everything is right where you already are? Bump into someone from another division while dropping off your cleaning and who knows what will bloom? Help people find convenient housing, and send (much reviled) company buses into car-unfriendly San Francisco, so people don't have to worry about their commutes. Free up their problem solving skills from negotiating traffic or BART and they'll apply it to some new kind of algorithm.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. For Google, it's a canny investment in creativity. (Edit: It also makes it harder for other companies to poach...)

This post was edited by plllog on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 18:36

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:35PM
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dcarch7

Free lunches, free dry cleaning, free -------, free ------- are not the ultimate perks.

Some companies, may be Google also, give stock options to employees. Those can be worth multi-million $$$$$.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:17PM
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