Why Would You Want to Work for Google?

I have never visited Google (not strictly true, been there thousands of times but never in a physical sense) but I hear it is a fabulous place to work.  They have some of the most engaged employees in the world.

When people talk about it one of the topics that quickly surfaces is the food.  Food is an integral part of the culture, the organisation trips over itself to make sure that its employees, “Googlers”, are never hungry.

Where do Googlers go when they are hungry?

In the Central St Giles building in London, home to about 1,500 of them, they head to the canteen:

  • They have a main dining area on the fourth floor
  • Another smaller one on the ninth floor
  • Additional micro-kitchens on each floor for drinks and fruit

No kidding, they go to the canteen?

OK, I admit it, lots of canteens isn’t really that remarkable, but Google spice things up a bit:

  • All the food is free
  • Visiting chefs give demonstrations, Jamie Oliver and Michel Roux to name but two
  • On Friday afternoons the canteen is open at 4.30 for “Thank Google it’s Friday” serving beer, wine and pizza, just to start the wind down for the weekend.

All of which is lovely, and no doubt very tasty, but why would you invest so much time and effort on canteens?

Why all the fuss about food?

Some will tell you the fuss isn’t about the food, it is cleverer than that; the tables in Google’s canteens are long refectory style affairs, not tables for four or six.  So employees eat as a community not as cliques.  They mix it up a bit.

Perceived wisdom is that “Innovation is a contact sport” and the food and seating encourages employees to talk, share ideas and build connections.

But that doesn’t explain the rave employee reviews

People don’t get excited about going to work because the food is good, (I once worked in a factory in Slough, fantastic job, dreadful food)

People may well get excited about the innovative culture

But I bet the real deal is that they love the canteens because of the camaraderie, I bet they love going to work at Google because that is where their friends are.

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Google Canteen

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Image by The Man in Blue


  1. Hello James

    You make a great point: they love going to work because their friends are there.

    Yet, I fear that you may have underplayed the role of food. Food is central to our existence. And given the choice most of us would prefer to eat/share food with our fellow man especially when it is plentiful. It is a fact that people who dine alone at restaurants finish much quicker than those that dine in a group.

    By supplying free food Google is making a statement – a social, human, existential statement. Who supplies you with free food? Only the people that care about you: your mother, your father, your brothers, your sisters, your extended family, your friends. And by supplying you with free food Google enters into that realm.

    I have noticed that I have felt more affection, more loyalty, and worked harder/smarter for those companies that have supplied me with free food/drinks if they have been of a good quality. The opposite is true for those companies where I have had to find change to get muck out from vending machines.

    Summary: generosity makes a huge difference when we swim in organisational worlds where generosity and goodness is missing! Put differently, generosity begets generosity as long a social conscience is in operation and ‘cheaters’ are identified and punished.


  2. Hi James,
    I like the sound of the place and it is a place that I think I would like to work. The really clever touch for me is the communal tables as it strips away the opportunity for exclusivity and promotes openness and connection and conversation.

    I’ve worked in places before that gave away great free food but didn’t have that style of eating. They lost out on the benefits.


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