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18
Jun 08
Wed

The highlight of my week

“Oh my gosh, you’re all suited up! You’re gonna be out of place here.”

She wasn’t wrong. I had just left the staid, black basalt and grey carpet surroundings of my law firm, hauled ass all the way across the CBD, and now found myself sitting on some plush primary-coloured furniture among a lava lamp and several bright, giant inflatable exercise balls. I was slightly clammy with sweat from the trek despite the winter weather, and the tie didn’t help things. But the mild discomfort was overshadowed by the fact that I was now excitedly sitting in the waiting room of Google’s Sydney office and was finally going to get the chance to check it out.

As luck would have it, a friend scored a job at Google several weeks ago. Google serves its staff freshly cooked meals and they are allowed to bring in friends for a 3-course lunch (apparently up to 4 times a month, accordingly to the rarely-enforced internal policy). I saw this as my opportunity to shamelessly invite myself over and she had graciously accommodated.

You might’ve seen the photos when the office was first opened. Things were certainly as cool as they appear in the photos. The Sydney office is relatively small – only about 200 people – and all of them are supposed to be moving to better premises at Pyrmont in about 9 months. We walked through the cube farm on Level 18, where all the non-techies reside (sales staff, etc). Dell 24″ widescreens appeared to be standard. A number of vacant desks had nameplates reading “Future Googler”. At just after noon, lunch had been prepared so we made our way into the dining room. Apart from the daily buffet lunch that had been set up, the dining room had two well-stocked drinks fridges, a counter laden with snacks, a pool table and a massage chair turned around so it faced towards the window. A small LCD screen showed the day’s menu. They appear to cater for vegans and on Fridays they serve halal food.

We settled at a desk by the window. Various Googlers filtered through the room, all without exception in casual attire (not casual as in “business casual” of “casual Friday”, but true casual). A guy in a t-shirt and shorts walked by in a pair of thongs. Thongs! I need a job where I can wear open-toed footwear. Failing that, there’s always going back to being a university student…

After lunch we headed down to Level 11, where Google keeps most of its engineers. I was told that Google also had some secret stuff going down on Level 16, but we gave that level a miss. The office is very open plan with low cubicle walls, so it was a little surprising that the floor was so quiet (but that may have been because most of the people were in the lunch room because it was pizza day). The Level 11 lunch room also has a table tennis table. There were 30″ Dells everywhere. A few people were working on dual screens as well as laptops (for testing?). The vibe is very relaxed – you could almost feel the innovation in the atmosphere. I don’t think staff morale is a problem at this company.

The hour was up all too soon and I had to return to my office.

My next related mission in life: scam a visit to the Googleplex in Mountain View (and grab lunch there too)!

  10:35pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Life  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment