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Google’s New Office In Dublin (home-designing.com)
115 points by edu on Feb 13, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments

I've been thinking about how if you look at our culture as, well, a culture, then it's pretty sad how the places where most of us spend 8 hours a day are these miserable, depressing, stupidly ugly dungeons, with plastic fruit and noisy robots making battery-acid coffee. I imagine some future historian talking about the corporations of the second dark age to a horrified classroom. Then I have a cup of coffee and cheer up. Wouldn't mind working in this place.

It depends where the cup of coffee comes from.

I love the fact that their work environment is not limited to their desk and meeting rooms. You can select the environment that works the best for you, and that stimulates the qualities you require for a specific task (or just pick the one you like the most).

I agree... it seems like the fixed office could become a relic of the past. it used to be important that you were generally in your office... so people could find you or reach you on your extension, but with chat and email.. it seems less relevant.

More importantly, with the portable work stations available today. It used to be a big event to move desks. Now you can work in another floor, no need to take your bulky computer and all the cables and network configuration with you.

My personal office has a private bathroom, a flat screen TV, a couch, microwave, fridge, balcony, bar and barstools. I can bring my dog every day. Best of all I sleep in whenever I want and take naps during the day. Did I mention I think working from home is the future?

I must disagree. While technology has certainly enabled remote working I do not believe that is the future. Google, for all of it's whimsy, is on the right track.

Though many dot-com and ad agencies may make their offices look like adult day-care, I think the underlying ideas at play are the future:

  * Physically and emotionally warm environments
  * huddle spaces for face-to-face collaboration
  * low ceilings create a quiet conference and intimacy
Google has made multiple living rooms in the building. They've taken what you love at home and brought it into a professional settings. In many ways the Silicon Valley startup houses have done the opposite to equally great effect. They brought the office into the home.

That's interesting -- I've always heard that higher ceilings can promote creativity. Is there an optimal middle-ground between intimate low ceilings and creative high ceilings?

I don't know. I'm just pulling from personal experience. The best spaces I've found have actually been dim, warm, and cozy. I find that my best development hours are late at night, wether in the office or at home.

But for other parts of business (research, email, document editing, etc) I have found the war-rooms and coffee-shops to be a better fit.

What flashes through my mind when I see this type of corporate fetish, even it being Google, is that the future is much more likely to be version of Brave New World than 1984.

We consume not because we're told to, but because we want to. We become vehicles in an economic equation.

Something is unnerving about the fact so many of us feel privileged to have the ability to dedicate our lives to what is essentially an organization to make money. I know it stikes odd to think that's the only purpose of Google (it seems not to be) but it certainly is for a significant portion of the corporatocracy.

Those two factors combined (variables in an economic equation and we have blind faith in corporations) can undermine the basis of a free society whose goals go beyond the enrichment of a handful of shareholders.

Companies voluntarily improving workplace conditions seems like a laudable achievement of free society.

In the epitaph of our civilization, maybe it'll say "but after all, you gotta give it to them: at least some of their corporations had offices that were actually sorta livable."

Aren't individuals essentially organizations trying to make money? Perhaps we're not so different from corporations after all.

Everybody on Hacker News wants to make a wad of money so they can fuck off from corporate drudgery and play around -- there's an end goal, it's a rational process for most individuals, not a world-devouring cancer.

No, no we aren't.

Individuals try to maximize something quite different than money, money is mostly instrumental.

On HN maybe. In the wider world, no.

Individuals have far more varied dreams, aspirations, fears and sentiments that "trying to make money". Most of them actually only try to make money because they are forced to in order to survive.

Corporations on the other hand exist almost solely for making money. Sometimes they add pride and some personal vision in, but those are few and far between (and it still comes second to money).

You can see a person giving its life for someone else's benefit. A parent taking care of a chronically sick child, for example. No corporation would ever do that.

We consume not because we're told to, but because we want to.

This isn't the theme of "Brave New World" that I picked up on, and I don't think the book featured a world with profit-seeking corporations.

Seems to me like "consuming because we want to" is the better choice of the two, no?

Some of the corporate speak on there is horrific. "We enable innovation" Ugh.

I'd probably shuffle off to a quiet, dimly lit corner somewhere with my headphones, and try to block out the intense primary colours and lack of sound insulation.

I must be getting old.

The picutres are sourced from here: http://www.camenzindevolution.com/Works/Google/Google-Campus...

So it's possible that the captions are added by the design firm rather than Google. (If you look at office pictures from http://www.google.com/about/jobs/, the tone of the surrounding copy seems different. Though perhaps still a little corporate :)

"I'd probably shuffle off to a quiet, dimly lit corner somewhere"

That's the rest of Dublin for the majority of days.

And sorry, you can't go to a park unless you have a waterproof notebook.

But maybe you can hide in the corner of a pub or coffee shop (with Wifi) and have a pint/coffee/tea etc. With soundproof earphones you'll be fine.

>I'd probably shuffle off to a quiet, dimly lit corner somewhere with my headphones, and try to block out the intense primary colours and lack of sound insulation.

Yea I'm with you on that. I'm not opposed to having workspaces more comfortable and less mundane, but some of these offices look more like a McDonalds' playpen than a workspace to me.

Looks good, but do people really work on those "work pods" (for example, the red 'e' with the guy in a laptop)? Maybe a soft-skilled employee could (text writing, excel crunching, etc), but what about the developers at google? I couldn't let go some multi-monitor, confy chair setup to sit there...

Yes -- the secret is to maintain a perpetual shortage of conference rooms, which forces teams to use any and all available free space to meet, and ensures that impromptu gatherings take place in the cool shared spaces rather than a boring old conference room.

And if you're visiting from another building (a common occurrence) it's very very frowned upon to camp out in a conference room, so you head over to the cafe or you sit back in a giant "e" in the hallway and you open up your laptop and you get to work.

The answer is yes. There are lots of non code related things that are done from work pods: reading a design doc, joining a video conference, planning work travel, performance reviews, and so forth (uh ... reading HN on a break). The common spaces are a nice change of scenery. I've worked at places before where I have had 4-5x the amount of office space. Our desk areas are comparatively small, and we are packed close in most instances. As much as I love my standing desk with dual monitors, it's sometimes a good idea to move around to not get cabin fever.

I am, however, skeptical of the people who bring their laptops to work out of massage chairs. I like massage chairs, but they are way too distracting.

I don't work at Google, but I've found that working from a different location in the office for some time helps me refocus during the day. So I sometimes just take my laptop, ssh to my desktop and go find a table/couch somewhere.

Also, multiple monitors are useful, but there are some programming tasks (like implementing an algorithm and writing some unit tests) where a laptop is fine.

He prob. means specifically the pods.

Different strokes. I rarely even plug into my external screen and keyboard and end up sitting using only my MBA and using the monitor as a wall.

The red 'e' is in the lobby, so that's more for visitors. As for the other pods - sure, it's refreshing to be able to move around.

You've never programmed on your laptop? Your skills are so hard that you never need to write an email or read a document?

Sure. Is that what they always do? I just sincerely want to know how they usually work there.

It depends on your taste. I know engineers who write all their code on a laptop stationed in various comfy chairs throughout the building. I know other engineers (including myself) who never use their laptop except for emergencies. (I've always wanted to be able to program on the couch, but I just can't get comfortable.)

The idea is: you can choose. (If you want a couch at your desk, nobody is stopping you. And electronically-controlled height-adjustable desks are standard equipment, so if you want to work at your desk but alternate between standing and sit, you can. It's wonderful.)

Yeah, I dunno. Doesn't seem like a place where most people would sit down to concentrate at crunch hour. But I definitely don't need my dual big screens all the time. I think it's kinda terrible, these offices with people hunched down at their private workstations all the time, only getting up for meetings and lunch. I've had a lot of great experiences with sitting on a sofa with my tablet reading or planning something. Sometimes just because it's led to great conversations with the soft-skilled people.

Kind of looks like they moved into an IKEA store.

I work in a factory. I wish my office looked like an IKEA store!

Negativity here, the pictures are horribly warped (possibly to capture more of the room in one shot) which gives a skewed perception of office sizes, and of course the people look staged. Could be actors, given the surreal-looking male/female distribution (or it's not a developer office). (not a sexist remark, just a comment on the poor male/female ratio in software development in general)

Not actors, a friend of mine (female) appears in one of the photos (that's how I got the link to the article). There're a lot of employees for EMEA user support.

The ratio is actually surprisingly good at Google. Over the summer, my team's ratio was about 50/50.

Indeed, the Dublin office is mostly sales (little or no eng) IIRC

I'm pretty sure they've some Site Reliability Engineers over there too.

edit: As a fact I've got a couple of recruiters offering that position in Dublin.

Yep, but not in that building.

I prefer this one, though. It's cozy, and has engineer-oriented amenities like workshops. :-)

They have some, but I think it's mostly non-tech-y, i.e. Support.

I've had recruiters contact me about development roles there too.

I work there as a engineer. The engineers sit in another office around the corner.

Interesting. I assumed it'd be mostly accounting.

Why do googlers enjoy colorful environments when all of Google's web apps are so depressingly gray?

Presumably because the enterprises that Google sell to prefer the depressing grey.

Awesome design. They even built a stylised Trinity Library room if I'm not mistaken.

Ha, you are right!

(It's a photo on the right, under the musical keyboard and on top of the 'blue waves' photo)

See the original: https://www.google.ie/search?q=trinity+library&um=1&...

Read carefully young souls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust

Didn't get past the phone screen, eh?

In case it isn't clear from the article, these pictures are actually from a number of different buildings. They're all together on the street, so it's still one "office", but only some of the pictures are from the newest building. We've been enjoying the rest for a while now :).

In all the pictures I did not spot anyone holding an iPad.

What I like best about promoting offices like these is not so much the decoration (although personally I like it, especially the library room), but the furthering of the idea that work can be accomplished anywhere -- not just at your desk.

I doubt there's much of a question as to whether the people at Google work hard and get a lot accomplished during their days. So you'd think that if such a productive company could accomplish that in a distributed (distributed meaning people working at places besides their desk) office, so could your more run-of-the-mill companies.

I love the colors, but I can't wrap my brain around captions like "our bench marks are enabling highest efficiency with ultimate creativity". A desperate, naive part of me likes to think they are satire..


If that was the engineering office, they would be. Since it's sales.. well.

Google has always cool offices! I believe that's part of the his effort to attract the best talent. It seems a minor detail, but it connect with your emotions regarding being cool.

Talent goes to Mountain View, CA. Job openings outside of the United States only include babysitting the office with some added mundane tasks. Why? Because Google uses it's world network for dodging taxes.

What does other openings have to do with "world network for dodging taxes"?

Hint: not a lot. Other companies do it with having minimum offices or none at all

Several consultancies will happily open a "paper company" for you in Ireland or wherever you choose. No problem whatsoever

"Talent goes to Mountain View" [citation needed].

There are a lot of talent outside the US (V8 came from Germany, also Zurich, London and Dublin offices have technical openings, Australia, not to forget Belo Horizonte in Brazil) and inside the US (NY comes to mind)

Google's datacenters are spread across the world.

> What does other openings have to do with "world network for dodging taxes"?


> Several consultancies will happily open a "paper company" for you in Ireland or wherever you choose. No problem whatsoever

Not every company is willing to spend this much on marketing.

> "Talent goes to Mountain View" [citation needed]

Read up on the story of Lars Bak.

> There are a lot of talent outside the US (V8 came from Germany, also Zurich, London and Dublin offices have technical openings, Australia, not to forget Belo Horizonte in Brazil) and inside the US (NY comes to mind)

Openings that have been "open" for many years. If you get through you will be moved to Mountain View, CA.

"Not every company is willing to spend this much on marketing."

You are overestimating the size of Google's (internal) marketing, and don't know how marketing is structured for companies like Google, also you seem to not understand how multinational tax structures work, so I won't explain any further.

"If you get through you will be moved to Mountain View, CA"

That's not what happened to several people that work or have worked at Google that I have personal knowledge of.

Some will go to MV of course, depending on area of work.

Lars Bak? "In 2004, Bak joined Google to work on the Chrome browser. He did not return to the United States"


Wow, nice to see the variety, but most of it is really tacky and tasteless, in my humble opinion. This is going to look really dated in 10 to 20 years.

They remodel the offices pretty frequently. Sometimes ... too often, I think.

There's something dangerous in such working conditions. It ends up being the place you spend most of your 24 hour per day allowance. If you are single and friendless this is perfect. If you have a family and friends outside of your work life - that is a shame because you'll see them less and less. There is a price for an in office bar, pool table, free food and amazing decor... hmm...

You seem to blame the office decoration for people wanting to spend most of their day in the office rather than the person making the decision to spend most of their day in the office.

Its not the decoration, but the culture. And if your life is lacking on the social department you might be tempted to compensate by working to oblivion instead of doing something wrong about it.

All the money obviously spent elsewhere. And then, open space -- not even cubicles.

So sad.

Well, Google's quite successful, so who am I to judge? But... not my cup of tea. And, somehow, it puts me in mind of the crap customer support for "end users". I guess, in my experience, the more internal distraction, the less outward focus and attention.

So far, gains through automation keep Google on a winning pace. But, I wonder...

Wow, impressive. But, to be honest, some part of my mind can't stop thinking: what a gigantic loss of money!

Stuff them all in a basement, or a hangar, in a "space efficient open floor plan that encourages team collaboration and communication" (read - easy micromanagement, and cost saving). Who needs all that comfort, they should be toiling away, not enjoying themselves...

If it makes the difference between keeping a typical employee for N years and keeping them for N+1, it's probably a huge net savings of money.

Google earns nearly $1 million per employee, not a loss at all.

Looks like a department store. I can't see myself working there at all.

Getting used to all that diverse furniture, I'd knock my shins a fair few times.

It seems they went all big plan offices, no small offices at Google?

Google, how about using some of those office colors and tones in your web interfaces instead of stark white everywhere? You wouldn't paint your walls all white so why must everything you do in the browser be on a white page?

Are open plan rooms norm for google?

It's a mix, at least in NYC. Some teams have their own rooms, but more than 50% are out in the open. (The allocation seems to be random.)

On the floor where I work, they've installed devices designed to generate noise that makes the office seem quieter. (Or so I'm told.) It seems to work pretty well; there are a lot of people on the floor but I don't feel the need to listen to music unless I am really in the mood for music. When everyone goes home, it kind of sounds like a gurgling stream. Apparent but not distracting.

I don't really understand how it works, but considering I prefer to work from the office than from home, they must be doing something right.

It's probably generating "white noise" which covers the other noises. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUwEiMNhOCM

Nice, another tax dodging office in Europe. Just like the office in Amsterdam. I guess it's needed for the whole tax dodging network.

This is quite possibly the least cost-effective way to dodge taxes. Most companies only need a tiny office.

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