The guy who helped design Google's offices to be like a creepy self-contained city now says it's "unhealthy" to work like that so thanks for letting us know buddy

Jan 24th

Google is known the world over for its luxuriously appointed Northern California office complex—the one with countless top-dollar amenities that let employees seamlessly fold Google into every waking moment of their lives, erasing the distinction between work and life and fostering a toxic arrangement of total corporate/employer dependence.

Well, the guy who helped think that whole thing up now says it's "unhealthy" to live that way. Makes you think!

[Googleplex architect Clive] Wilkinson thinks Google's luxurious on-site perks have made workers too dependent on the company, a situation he calls "dangerous."

"This notion that you can provide everything that would support a worker's life on campus might appear to be extremely generous and supportive," he said. "But it also has a whole range of potentially negative impacts."

A "whole range of potentially negative impacts," eh?

I mean, look, I'm not trying to say that this was obvious from the beginning, but... it was obvious from the beginning. For real.

He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all. That, he argues, may seem to keep workers happy but can quickly spark burnout.

"Work-life balance cannot be achieved by spending all your life on a work campus. It's not real. It's not really engaging with the world in the way most people do," he said. "It also drains the immediate neighborhoods of being able to have a commercial reality."

That's actually a really good point that many people might not think of—the decadent on-site amenities of a "campus" like Google's could very well have a depressive effect on adjacent local economies. Why eat dinner at a nice local bistro when you can have your Michelin-starred GoogleMeal brought right to your desk? Meanwhile, Main Street dies.

If an employer is trying to foster creativity, "you don't want an overly comfortable workplace. You shouldn't have sleep pods everywhere," he said. "Creative work doesn't happen in a condition of luxury. If you have that much luxury, you naturally want to fall asleep."

Well, maybe that's true, although Google is slowly taking over the world and homogenizing it into a bland, awful, censorship-riddled GooglePlanet, so maybe we'd prefer it if they slept over there a little more.

Anyway, it's nice that Mr. Wilkinson is speaking up about this but it would've been nice if he'd thought of it nearly 20 years ago!


Comments

There are 38 comments on this article.

Ready to join the conversation? Start your free trial today.

Access comments and our fully-featured social platform, completely free of charge.

Sign up Now
App screenshot

You must signup or login to view or post comments on this article.