Anne Driscoll

Human resources manager

PERKS FOR GOOGLERS BY GOOGLERS

"The majority of initiatives come from our Google population. We provide an atmosphere that says, 'We're not going to do this for you. Just go do it.' And we encourage whatever special interests, whatever things you want to do. We don't want HR to be seen as something that dictates anything."

DOING WHAT MAKES SENSE

"We do things that make sense for that population. Maybe a dance troupe works out really well in India but doesn't translate to the London office. That's okay. It could be as simple as prayer and meditation rooms, or as ambitious as a companywide volunteer day. Someone had a friend who was an author they thought other Googlers would be interested in. That became the Google author series. We invited all the presidential candidates to speak here in a fireside-chat forum. We've had eight so far."

MAKING LIFE AWAY FROM WORK MORE EFFICIENT

"Some things are no-brainers. We found someone who does oil changes here in the parking lot. That's not something that Google pays for. Employees pay for it. We just offer the space.

Dry cleaning is a similar situation. We contract out to a company that provides that service to employees. These are things that are easy for employers to do, and it makes life easier for their employees. It just takes work to put the program into place and think about what's really going to help. We had a lot of employees who didn't have laundry machines in their homes. That's where the laundry room here came from.

All this goes back to how we look at benefits and perks.

We're trying to make your life outside the office more efficient. We don't want you to spend three hours going to the doctor. Let's have doctors here on site so it'll take 20 minutes. Not because we want you back in your seat doing work. But because we don't want you to have to go home and do extra work because it took so long to go to the doctor."

LEARNING FROM OUTSIDERS

"We run a speaker series where we bring in highly technical people, leaders in their field, who get together with a group of like-minded people to talk about those subjects. It's not a sales presentation. It's a real, meaty technical exchange. It fosters the ongoing learning culture here. What we all want to be able to maintain at Google is this interest in the outward environment. We don't just learn from ourselves.

Our philosophy is providing all the great things you would have in a PhD or graduate program. That's how you're going to attract people who are interested in working in a collaborative environment."

TAKING THE GOOGLE SHUTTLE TO WORK

"Someone thought it's not great for all these Google employees who live in San Francisco to drive 35 miles to work, and that morphed into a transportation network that shuttles 1,200 people a day, which has a huge impact on the environment and on people's lives.

We decided where shuttle stops are by looking at where the Google population is based in San Francisco, the East Bay, the South Bay. I have a stop five minutes from my house.

The buses have wireless access, so I'll run through some email. It's also a time for me to sit and think about how my day is going to be and what I'm going to prioritize or how I think about a particular issue. I might read. That's me. I don't look at it as 100% work time. I look at it as a way of getting back to the city at a reasonable hour while not cutting my day short. I can work a reasonable day, hop on the shuttle, and still follow up on email. I never feel like I shortchanged myself on what I had to do."

Add New Comment

1 Comments

  • Joshua Letourneau

    Being a very young company with a non-corrected stock price (some may say 'irrational' due to the precipitous decline on the news of an MS/Yahoo merger), Google is at a point in its existence where pushing the envelope is not only par for the course, but it's expected. When a company has hordes and hordes of cash reserves, investing in Shuttles, Fire-Side chats, allocating office space to Prayer/Meditation rooms, etc., are good ways to build morale while unloading some cash as well (too much cash floating around on a balance sheet is not necessarily a good thing . . . )
    The question I have is . . . When will the honeymoon period be over? When the stock price corrects and Google market cap normalizes, will investors be so keen on lavish spending under the premise of a "happy culture".
    And here's the 'water-cooler' talk direct from the inside of the Google ranks: . . . Who owns the IP of these breakthrough ideas & innovations that Google so strongly pushes employees for on their 'free time' in the office?
    The above being stated, I will say that Google is doing some really cool things and I imagine it's a lot of fun to be a part of it right now.