Drop by one of the 12 cafeterias at the “Googleplex”—corporate headquarters of the technology giant in Mountain View, California, near San Jose—and you may experience flashbacks to your college days because the atmosphere is so vibrantly social, with “Googlers” buzzing from table to table, catching up with colleagues. The food, however, is far superior to anything you ate in university dining halls. Fresh sushi, roasted black bass with parsley pesto, Japanese udon noodle salad—that’s just the short list of meals that this Internet search-engine powerhouse (population: 10,678) offers its employees at no cost (yes, free).
Every Thursday during the growing season, area farmers flock to the compound to sell their fruits and vegetables at the company’s exclusive farmer’s market.”
Best Lunch in Town? Sure, on-site cafés keep productivity high by eliminating the time it takes for employees to leave for lunch—but “Googlers” would be hard-pressed to find a more delicious and healthful meal “off campus.” Each café is manned by chefs who once donned toques at leading restaurants around the world. A nutritionist makes lunchroom rounds, answering questions about the nutritional values and origins of the dishes—many of which feature whole grains and several servings of vegetables.
Farming in Work. This forward-thinking company is committed to supporting local growers. At Café 150, one of the on-site cafes, every ingredient used to prepare meals (except for the salt and coffee) comes from within a 150-mile radius of Mountain View. Every Thursday during the growing season, area farmers flock to the compound to sell their fruits and vegetables at the company’s exclusive farmer’s market—which makes it easy for busy employees to shop on site and head home with ingredients for healthy weekend meals.
Convenient Stress-busters. Recognizing that striking a balance between one’s work and personal life can be challenging, Google strives to help its employees simplify. Employees who choose to bike or jog to work can shower in on-site locker rooms. Four physicians offer free on-site consultations. In-house massage therapists provide subsidized relaxation (most massages cost $30 per hour). Google even helps eliminate the hassle of finding time for a haircut: twice a week, a van staffed with stylists sets up shop in the parking lot. Cost of a cut: a mere $18 for a snip. (Can’t beat that in the Bay Area!) “Our culture of innovation isn’t limited to technology,” says Sunny Gettinger, Google spokesperson. —L.H.