Big Brother Google is watching
AROOFTOP meadow growing strawberries, a three-lane Olympic-sized swimming pool and soundproofed “sleep pods” with cashmere eye masks and duck down duvets. It sounds like the plushest playground ever built.
But the pampered little darlings frolicking around in this paradise are not, in fact, children – but staff at one of the world’s biggest companies.
For these are just some of the outlandish features at Google’s new London HQ, a mammoth 300m-long building which will house the tech giant’s 7 000 UK employees.
Plans for the £1-billion (R17.08bn) 11-storey office space, due to start construction next year, also comprise a running track, basketball court and roundthe-clock massage rooms.
Google, last week fined a record £2.1bn by the EU for abusing its search engine monopoly, is known for its eccentric office spaces, with several of its global HQs featuring slides, ball pits and soft-play areas to encourage “creativity” in staff.
But, as insiders reveal, the reality of working for the multi-billion-pound company is far stranger – and at times more sinister – than a few design quirks.
From monitoring employees’ weight to cutting their hair, doing their dry cleaning and mandated nap times, we delve inside the weird world of Google…
Getting a job at Google is rigorous, with applicants subjected to five exacting interviews and bombarded with complex puzzles to weed out the top brains.
Even those applicants with flawless CVs are often floored by requests such as “How many haircuts happen in this country each year?”, “Design an evacuation plan for this building”, or “If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
New staff members are known as “Nooglers”, while ex-employees, of whom there are an estimated 20 000 worldwide, are “Xooglers” (ridiculous names, it seems, are par for the course at Google).
But having put all that effort into hiring you, Google doesn’t like letting go. Leavers are signed up to the Xoogler alumni network, which keeps a tight rein on former employees and lures them back for mentoring, presentations and networking events. Google’s human resources department is called “People Operations” – shortened to “Pops” – and its staff of “People Analysts” are far more hands-on than the average HR team.
Employees are subjected to regular surveys, personality tests and psychological profiling – based on everything from lunch preferences to how often they use the gym – and the company uses this data to measure productivity and ambition. Since 2012, a research project, codenamed “Aristotle”, has analysed what it takes to build the perfect team at the company. It found that if a Google manager greets a new recruit on their first day in the office, that recruit will be 15 percent more productive nine months down the line.
Not everyone is quite so happy with the all-seeing Google eye, however, with some former employees deeming it akin to George Orwell’s “Big Brother”. Last year, a product manager at the tech company claimed workers were banned from speaking to their spouse or friends about their boss and sharing their previous work at job interviews.
Google’s new UK HQ will have £5 000 “sleep pods” made by New York brand MetroNaps, which claim to “improve mood, creativity and learning” as well as “boosting alertness and productivity”. – Daily Mail