Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Tour of Google’s Boulder Faciilty

So to answer your first question, no, I don’t have any photos. When the area LadyCoders group met for a two-day weekend Bootcamp sponsored in part by Google (who donated meeting and cafeteria space), we were asked not to take photos anywhere but in the meeting room. That made sense. Employees had left behind code, notes and plans on walls and whiteboards. Although the company was not paranoid about visitors seeing and stealing inside secrets, diplomatically it was better to ensure that whatever code is at Google stays at Google.

As for the beautiful work environment, all the stories you have read are absolutely true. Employees sit on a variety of ergonomic chair styles. Using outdoor themes, work areas feel light and spacious. They are organized in open clusters rather than dull, enclosed cubicles. The radial-design work areas give each employee his or her own domain while leaving them open to communicating with other team members. However if someone feels the need for an isolated place in which to decompress, there is a separate, quiet area with curtained-off sections. You can choose one with an easy chair, or a lounge chair, or one providing just a cushion on the floor. The latter would be perfect for a yoga-break in the middle of the day. And there is a totally private room for nursing mothers which they can use whenever needed.

Since the Google work style is one of collaboration and team effort their environment is designed to foster this. Conference rooms feature video-conferencing equipment so that interaction with people at the main Cambridge office can take place easily. From large to small and intimate, each has a different Colorado-themed style. One is even located inside a colorfully painted VW bus! You have probably heard about the ping-pong tables and rock-climbing wall. In addition, there are comfortable break/snack areas with all sorts of healthy food. The cafeteria looks out onto a beautiful atrium where groups can can sit at picnic tables during nice weather.

I’d give my right hand to work there (except then I couldn’t keyboard as fast). I don’t foresee that happening, though, since competition is fierce for those jobs. And commuting would be impossible in the winter, anyway.


But it would be great to work in a place where groups have an annual competition to decorate their own work areas. The latest winner by a large margin was a team who used a tropical bar theme and created the actual bar structure along one wall. Thanks to generous donations from some local breweries they hold real, not virtual, happy hours there for all the employees.

Google gave all Bootcamp attendees a pair of knee-high socks. Maybe I’ll take a picture of that and post it.