The Google Headquarters was nothing like we expected. We ixmagined a tall, dismal building, with cramped cubicles and fluorescent lights, envisioning tired employees hunched over small computers, typing code all day. Arriving, we realized how off-base our assumptions were. Tall redwood trees stretched up to the sky, and modern buildings were spread out over a sprawling campus. A Google Street View car was parked next to a large red map marker directly outside the Maps building. It felt like we had arrived at a college campus with several playgrounds. We saw endless pools, Google-colored lawn chairs, bikes parked with Google colors, and people walking their dogs along the wide paths criss-crossing the campus. Inside one of the buildings, the World Cup was being projected live on a screen and a massage room sat off to the side.
Berry Berkowitz, our guide, explained how Google employees start and finish projects while also doing other activities during their day, like taking a swim at the pool or walking their dog with fellow workers. He added, “As long as you get your work done, people do not monitor you to make sure you are at your desk. There are no teachers hovering over you to make sure you are managing your time. And always, Google strives to constantly improve and become better.”