The London headquarters of the US search engine giant Google, is in the newly built office and residential complex at Central Saint Giles, set in the heart of Covent Garden, one of central London's most famous pockets. The office is a total of 50,000 square metres, covering desk space, meeting rooms, chill out areas, and eating areas, amongst others. In addition, employees have a number of different outdoor areas and even secret gardens available to take a small break and recharge their batteries. What sort of office environment would we expect from such a modern and forward-thinking company such as Google? Certainly no dull and grey office chairs, boring lighting or dated décor. Rather, we can see an extraordinary nest full of creative people, LED colours and lettering, with every minor detail carefully considered. The truth is, Google's London office is full of stylistic inconsistencies and contrasts, with décor more suited to your grandparent's place, not the world's leading search engine. The London Google office is an energetic mix of old and new, playful and clean, traditional and modern designs.
How could we describe the entrance and waiting room area in one word? Iridescent. The office has been designed by British architectural firm Penson, who before being chosen for this project were relatively unknown. The lobby exudes exactly what you would expect from the internet giant; openness due to the large glass windows, modern charm from the screens placed in the floor, and of course the Google name up in lights. No extravagant UK headquarters would be complete without a reference to Britain, with the Union Jack featuring prominently in the lobby's design. However, as you will soon see, the rest of the office décor is very different.
While Google is one of the most innovative and forward thinking businesses in the world, they have still chosen to furnish one particular part of the office with furniture looking as thought it has been dug up from grandma's attic. Certainly not the décor one would expect from a company that coined the phrase 'google it'. This quaint corner features a Persian carpet, surrounded by padded waffle chairs, floral pillows, 60s style lampshades hanging effortlessly from the ceiling, and even rustic rocking chairs! This is just another example of how Google does this differently, with positive results.
While many offices barely have a couch to sit on while on lunch, Google has a number of lounge areas for chatting and socialising with other employees. The idea behind such areas is to increase employee satisfaction; to not feel guilty about taking a break with a book. Common areas also allow free communication flow between workers, allowing for brainstorming to share creativity and ideas.
This room is certainly not what one would expect to find in the headquarters of a booming technology business, right? Whether the all over floral print reminds you of a rose garden, or old bed linen you may remember digging up from old cupboards, the cosiness of this room cannot be denied. Designed as one of the many chill out spots, employees can come here to recharge their batteries and take a little time out.
This meeting room is certainly protected from prying eye and ears, ringing phones and other office distractions. The room has been designed without windows, and includes padded walls for soundproofing. The vault style lock on the door exaggerates the notion of trying to keep whatever information being discussed inside very private and secure, and could potentially make someone inside panic a little bit. Either way, this space is far from the status quo when it comes to the standard office meeting room.
A sense of community within the Google's team is encouraged, indeed, it is a key factor in their values. In this cafeteria, the employees of different departments can come together, dine, chat socially, and throw ideas around one another.
Stepping outside the office, the encouragement of social interaction and conversation is evident, with many benches and chairs conducive to interaction. A great place to enjoy a beer with colleagues on a Friday evening, employees can enjoy the hustle and bustle of central London below. The real feature of the outdoor space however, is the ability for Google's employees to grow their own fruit and vegetables at work, just another unique and quirky way Google are at the forefront of 21st century business values; being very successful while keeping employees happy and fulfilled in their roles, and of course, happy to be spending time at the office.