A Day in the Life at Google Headquarters

By Jacqueline Lee April 17, 2012

A day of working at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., which is affectionately dubbed “The Googleplex,” is not a day in the life of the typical corporate American worker. The campus, designed by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, features coffee and smoothie stands, a full-sized T-Rex skeleton replica, vegetable gardens and a bike fleet.

The Googleplex was designed to promote the fitness and well-being of its workers. The campus covers approximately 26 acres, meaning that employees often need bikes to travel from one building to another. Buildings on campus house rock-climbing walls, massage chairs and ready-to-use bike helmets. Workers can jog around campus or use the employee gym. The gym includes stationary bikes, climbing machines and a pool with a lifeguard.

With all of these amenities, what could a worker possibly complain about? As it turns out, the outdoor bikes have been a problem. At 20 inches, the bikes have proven uncomfortable for taller riders. Google’s campus is used to fostering innovation, so the company turned to its workers to design a more suitable campus GBike.

“We’ve got an entrepreneurial and innovative culture,” Brendon Harrington, Google’s transportation operations manager, told CNET. “We said, ‘You tell us what you think is a cool design.’”

A four-person team stepped up to the challenge. The winning design for the new GBike includes 24-inch wheels, fenders that keep water off of employees’ backs when it’s raining and a cover to keep grease from the chain off of employees’ slacks. The bike also features a handy basket for carrying equipment and Google’s easily recognizable slate of primary colors.

“Our design motto was, ‘Build a user-friendly, safe and reliable, low-maintenance new GBike,’” said David Fork, a renewable energy technologist at the company, who was on the four-person team that won the competition. Google wanted the bikes to be easy to produce, affordable, comfortable and secure. And of course, the design also had to be “Googley.”

As workers bike around campus, they may see their colleagues sitting in ad-hoc locations working on their laptops or having discussions with co-workers in one of Google’s cafes. “We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups,” says the Google website section on company culture, “in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.”

At Google, you can feel comfortable about leaving your cubicle to climb the nearest rock wall. After all, making the work environment creative, according to the company’s founders, helps to contribute to an innovative environment.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing Writer

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