Day 146 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

Recently I heard the end of an interview on ABC radio with an American Investigative Journalist and Freedom of Information campaigner called Heather Brooke.

Nothing unusual about that as I listen to lots of interviews on radio as I do my housework. She was discussing her latest book  “The Revolution Will Be Digitised” (dispatches from the information war) but it was her aside that captured my attention.

She had been invited by Google on a tour of the “Googleplex” in Silicon Valley USA (California). She spoke of the Google Campus as being a “bit twee” and my ears pricked up immediately. Oh a bit twee eh? I’ve talked about “twee” before. It’s code for “a bit strange or unusual or light on your feet.”

One of the things that make the Googleplex a bit twee

My curiosity was aroused. She spoke of employees riding skateboards and bicycles left around the campus by Google for everyone’s use. Staff members eating in all the free Cafes placed around the gardens.

Hang on a minute … please forgive me. I almost forgot. NOT “staff members.” No. “GOOGLERS”  if you please. And these Googlers could also do their washing while they worked .. for free!

But most of all, the Googlers there were having FUN at WORK! Please be honest now: do YOU know anyone having FUN at WORK? I do not, but I wish I did. I wish I’d had fun at work. Perhaps I’d still be working if I had?

And then, as if the universe was now serving me up further information (without even having to use Google to find it I might add) I read an article in the Reader’s Digest about “Life in the Plex” in other words: The Googleplex.

This article went into a lot more detail and quoted the company”s ‘impressario’ Cliff Redeker, who organises these visits as saying “We like to combine fun with business. It’s called being ‘Googley.’

There is so much more to this place that I’m not sure how to fit it in. Things like no one wearing suits, a slippery slide coming down from the floor above instead of steps, playing games to de-stress and much more.

Another twee workplace

I’m here to tell you that my mind went crazy thinking about all of this. Imagine working at a place like that? I thought that Google must be a one-off but then I happened upon a documentary yesterday on Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook.

I discovered that the company of Facebook is also in Silicon Valley and guess what? It has a campus like Google! Free food, washing machines, riding rip sticks, games to play etc etc.

Why is this so you might ask? Did Facebook copy off Google? The documentary explained how Mark lured a woman called Sheryl Sandberg from Google where she was the Chief Operating Officer for online sales. Aha here was the connection.

In 2008 Mark realised that he needed to take his Facebook business up a notch with ads and sought help from Sheryl because he liked Google’s Business Model. She soon took Facebook to where it needed to be. So, I was right: they ‘sort of’ copied off of Google.

And then – by chance – I came across a documentary on Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple with Steve Wozniak. I was hoping to find that Apple too employed the same “twee” work practises that both Google and Facebook advocated but I did not.

In fact a Google search brought up criticisms of Apple work practises in their production line factories … but I believe they are now taking steps to change all that. But what about where their creative staff worked?

Apple campus: all very green but not TWEE

I found that the Apple Campus is located in Cupertino California, and it occupies 32 acres (130,000 m²) in six buildings spread over four floors. Besides these buildings, the whole Apple Campus occupies an additional thirty buildings scattered throughout the city to accommodate its employees.  

But  unfortunately nowhere could I find the same delightful stories of bikes and rib sticks and slippery slides and washing machines. Apple Campus seems like a nice place but I want FUN not accommodation!  Besides, wouldn’t you get sick of everyone you work with living nearby?

As I write, I have a thought: it seems to me that companies that manufacture a “product” and therefore have a production line (eg iPad, iPhones etc) do not have time for frivolities as do Google and Facebook. These places do not have a physical “product” but a cyberspace product.

And therein folks lies the clue to why Google and Facebook can indulge their staff with so much FUN. These people are “creating” all day long and need to have a bit of  a “twee environment” in order to continue being creative. No production business to worry about for them! They are free of these encumbrances.

All I can say is I do hope that the creators at  the Apple Campus (as a separate entity from the production line) can get in some FUN! It is disappointing that I could not add a third “twee” workplace to my story! Still, it was fun trying.  

And now that I have completed my investigation into FUN at Technological Companies, I will leave this blog and go and cook my tea. But really, wouldn’t you just love to work at one of these places? Oh well, one can always dream.

Be Googley and see you all tomorrow …