Living in San Francisco, where Google is headquartered, I have heard plenty of tales of the company's unconventional office culture and environment, including free food mandates, excellent chefs, in-house masseuses, arcade rooms, off-site meetings in breweries and at fun spots like Disneyland, not to mention bouncy balls galore and tons of branded schwag. So, when I came across a photo of Google's Zurich office, I wasn't very surprised, so much as I felt a pang of jealousy — although, I can't complain about Sugar HQ's swank new space.
While bouncy balls also float freely there, you may, in addition, hold a conference in a gondola car bedecked in ski gear or wrapping in a fishing net, take a break on a massage chair in an aquarium, brainstorm with co-workers while sitting in a canoe, spend a delicate few competing in Guitar Hero, or shoot down to lunch on a playground slide. Anything goes in the space, which one person described aptly as "kindergarten for adults." To hear more and see lots of images, read more.
As you may have expected, creating a fun office is great at keeping staff happy and fostering creativity. But, according to VP of Engineering Nelson Mattas, who said, "I was very surprised that on day one of joining Google I had access to every piece of code, design document, and confidential information," this wacky space is also meant to create "a structure that isn't dictated from the top," a place where information is free flowing. For Googlers, who no doubt spend a majority of their life at the office, this certainly seems like one heck of a Home Away From Home. Unfortunately, though, this Zurich funhouse is unconventional even by Google's standards. When I showed images to an SF-based Google friend of mine, she responded, "Is that a joke? Is that really the office? Where did you find this gem!?" Bewilder yourself by checking out the images below.