How the Googleplex Works

Google Employee Perks

A Google employee gets a free haircut on site. 
A Google employee gets a free haircut on site. 
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Many tech industry companies in Silicon Valley offer a range of perks and benefits to attract and keep employees. Several offer on-site benefits, which have the added bonus of keeping the employee workforce in the office more often. Give employees enough reasons to stick around and you'll likely see productivity go up. Why head home when everything you need is at work?

With that in mind, here's a short list of the perks Google employees get when they sign on at the Googleplex:

  • If an employee's bangs are getting in the way during a furious coding session, he or she can schedule an on-site haircut free of charge.
  • To work off all those calories, employees can head over to a gym filled with equipment. For the aquatically-inclined, Google also provides swim-in-place swimming pools. These pools are narrow and not very long. Electric water pumps provide a strong current that flows in one direction. Employees swim against the current, staying in place within these small pools. Lifeguards are on duty to keep employees safe.
  • Employees can play against each other in a quick game of ping pong, billiards or foosball -- you can find game tables in several of the buildings on campus. There are also video games for employees who prefer to let their thumbs do all the work.
Google employees can take a break and play a quick game of pool or foosball. Google employees can take a break and play a quick game of pool or foosball.
Google employees can take a break and play a quick game of pool or foosball.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • If an employee spills some of that fancy juice on his or her clothes, all is not lost. Google has laundry facilities available to employees on site. The company even offers dry cleaning services. It's not unusual for Google employees to bring clothes in over the weekend to do laundry at the Googleplex.
  • Google's healthcare plan includes on-site medical staff. If an employee suffers an injury or feels ill while at work, he or she can make an appointment with a doctor at the Googleplex.
  • Even with all the benefits and perks at the Googleplex, work can become stressful. Fortunately for Google employees, they can take advantage of a subsidized massage program. For a small fee, the employee can receive a massage from a licensed therapist in a private room. In fact, Google's massage rooms and bathrooms are some of the only areas in the Googleplex that have opaque walls.
  • Another famous benefit of working at Google is the 20 percent time program. Google allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program.

Many of Google's perks appeal to young people fresh out of college. The Googleplex provides a gentle transition from the academic world into the corporate environment. But what about employees who have moved beyond the campus lifestyle? Not all of their benefits have fared as well.

In 2008, one of Google's perks changed dramatically. The change impacts hundreds of Google employees, and many of them aren't happy about it. What change in policy could make some Google employees break down in tears? To find out, go to the next section.