If you're the largest search engine in the world, with revenue in the billions, stock options pouring out the ears, and execs lighting cigars on $100 bills, how do you design your office? Like a kindergarten, that's how. (Duuuh!)
OK, a really frickin? nice kindergarten, to be fair, one that's got a massage parlor, a gym, and an Asian fusion restaurant free to all employees. Still, Google's new workplace in London has more primary colors and playrooms than anyone over the age of 6 has any right to enjoy. And we thought Facebook had a case of arrested development.
The office is the work of Scott Brownrigg Interior Design, who teamed up with Google's Joe Borrett and Jane Preston to outfit the new 40,000-square-foot space in a whimsical "London-Brighton theme." (For us yanks, that's the rough equivalent of "gogo meets Coney Island.") The place has meeting rooms in timber beach cabins; video conferencing stations in giant, primary-colored dice; and desks in bumper cars and red telephone booths. So when Larry and Sergey pop over, they can discuss the fate of their multi-billion dollar corporation in the Sunshine cabin sipping juiceboxes. Or they could just eat paste.
We're joshing. Well, sort of. The thing is, we don't understand the impulse to make professional workplaces look like funhouses. Giving your employees a positive place to work is one thing; turning it into shtick is another — from an efficiency perspective, it could actually be counterproductive. Personally, we'd be so distracted here daydreaming about fried clams and the Wonder Wheel, we'd barely get anything done. Given the aesthetics of the office, maybe Google should augment its slogan: Don't be evil and never, ever grow up.