Updated: June 12, 2015 6:58:32 pm
For many people, Google is the ultimate company when it comes to innovation, and with good reason – the company has come out with amazing products like search, mail, maps, Chrome and of course, Android itself. But Google does not innovate by default or habit.
What makes the company innovative and help it stay that way is its work culture – a culture captured brilliantly by Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice-president of People Operations (yes, that is an actual post) in his new book, Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead. No, we do not know whether the book will transform how you live and lead, but we can guarantee that some of the information in it about how people at Google (they are called Googlers) work will surprise you.
Here then, are ten amazing things that happen at Google:
1. Apply for a job at most organisations, and you will have to meet and be assessed by an HR person and the person you are going to work for. At Google, you will also be assessed by those who are going to actually work under (or ‘for’) you, or in other words, your future subordinate! Bock says “their assessments are more important than anyone else’s – they’re going to have to live with you.” For good measure, you will also be interviewed by someone who is not at all connected with your work. To get a ‘disinterested assessment’ – so someone applying for sales might get assessed by a programmer or a legal team person.
2. Every year, those working at Google receive feedback on their performance. Not just from their managers, but also from their peers. So you are reviewed not just by your boss but also by those who work with you.
3. At Google, any employee can give another a US$175 (about Rs 11,200) cash reward. There is no management approval or sign off needed. This is a system of peer bonus where employees reward each other for what they consider to be excellent work or as Bock calls them, “above-and-beyond” individual contributions.
4. You can bring your dog along while working at Google. The code of conduct reads: “We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”
5. There is an annual “Take Your Parents to Work Day” at Google where Googlers bring their parents to see where they work and also give them an idea of the company and what they are working on.
6. Google does its best to place microkitchens all over its offices. In Bock’s words, microkitchens are “pockets where you can grab a coffee, a piece of organic fruit, or a snack, and take a few minutes to relax.” Cafes are laid out to ensure there are “casual collisions” between people who “might have interesting conversations.” The idea, according to Bock, is to create a “third place,” apart from home and office, where people can “relax, refresh, and connect with one another.” And one of Google’s founders Sergey Brin also said, “No one should ever be more than two hundred feet away from food.”
7. Some of the things Google provides free of cost to its employees: ATMs, mobile libraries, massage chairs, nap pods (to grab quick naps), food, onsite laundry machines. Those working at Google can also get access to haircuts and salons, dry cleaners, get their cars washed and bikes repaired, and get organic groceries delivered by paying an amount – all at work.
8. Every week, Google has a TGIF meeting where the founders of the company, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, host the entire company, with thousands of employees joining in on video. They not only talk about the company and its initiatives, but most crucially, answer questions from any one about any aspect of the company in the 30-minute question and answer session at the end.
9. Got promoted at Google? Don’t expect any special perks. As Bock writes, “Our most senior executives receive only the same benefits, perquisites and resources as our newest hires. There are no executive dining rooms, parking spots or pensions.”
10. There is a tool called gThanks (pronounced Gee Thanks) that makes it easy for Googlers to send thank you notes to each other. And all these are posted publicly so everyone can see who has been helpful or has done something special.
(Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead has been published by Hachette India and is available for Rs 599)
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