April 26, 2011

Google Offers New Workshops for Employees

Google (News - Alert) is pretty renowned for its work culture and, despite its size, prides itself on its small company feel. From foosball tables and gyms for yoga and meditation to pianos, fun break rooms, delicious food and nary a solo office, Google seems like the Nirvana of offices when it comes to an ideal place to work. Now the search engine behemoth is launching a new program for its employees that adds one more cool thing to their list of “why we are awesome to work for.”

The Associated Press featured Google’s latest offering for workers, a program called the “Google Workshops,” a way for employees to “escape from their computer screens and office chairs to weld, drill and saw on expensive machinery.”

The workshops are being offered in part because the company’s founders, Larry Page (News - Alert) and Sergey Bin, started Google in a rented garage. These programs are a sort of “throw back” to the origins of Google, offering a place for employees to tinker and play with high tech equipment.

“There is a feeling here at Google that all good things start in a garage,” said Greg Butterfield, an engineering lab manager who oversees the workshops to the Associated Press. “Larry wanted to create the same kind of environment he and Sergey had when they started Google — a sort of a playground or sandbox for pursuing their ideas.”

Some of the equipment one would see at these workshops is an oscilloscope, a plasma cutter and a miter saw. Of course, nothing would be quite Google enough if there weren’t toys thrown into the mix, particularly a set of Legos, something Page once used to build an inkjet printer years before creating Google.

“Our commitment to innovation depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. Every employee is a hands-on contributor, and everyone wears several hats,” it says on Google’s site regarding its corporate philosophy and culture.

These programs lend itself to that philosophy, ensuring that employees continue on in the way that they always have.

The workshops are also used for personal reasons and one of the projects to come out of the creative space included a giant tricycle that was designed to haul around 250 pounds of high-tech photo equipment.

Google believes that work should be challenging but that challenge should be fun. It places emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments and fosters a work environment that cultivates great ideas.

“The workshops are my No. 1 perk at Google,” said Google software engineer Ihab Awad. “They're the main reason I will be a Googler for life.”

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell