Zooglers: why staff are paid to play in Google’s Zurich office

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Not only do they have tennis, pinball, a cinema, a gym and a Lego room at their disposal – employees in the Swiss city’s office also have their own nickname

Name: Zooglers.

Origin: 75 different countries.

Appearance: Pleased with themselves.

Why is that? Because they live in Zurich, which is consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world. And because they work at Google, which has the coolest offices there.

Oh God. I’m afraid so. They work on Google Search, Maps, Calendar, YouTube and Gmail, as well as artificial intelligence and other projects.

Way to go: going between floors at Google’s Zurich office.
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 Way to go: going between floors at Google’s Zurich office. Photograph: Google

Like how to make me remember all my passwords? Maybe. And to make the staff happy and efficient, the Google campus on Brandschenkestrasse, the company’s biggest R&D hub outside the US, takes the concept of “fun” offices to a frightening new level.

Work isn’t meant to be fun! That’s why you have to pay people to do it. That’s an increasingly outdated view. Shall I tell you what’s available to the Zooglers?

By all means. Let me just prepare this sick bag. There are firefighter’s poles and spiral slides between floors, plus imitation sleeper carriages and baths of foam cubes that you can nap in.

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Zooglers can relax in a foam bath.
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 Zooglers can relax in a foam bath. Photograph: Google

Can I? Sorry, no. Not you. Only people invited into the building can do these things.

Right. There’s a “jungle lounge”, where you can work surrounded by 100 different plant varieties. Then, if you want to get away from the plants, there’s a big, furry egg to sit in.

I work surrounded by quite a lot of mould varieties. That’s nice. The Zooglers have table tennis and pinball, but also a band rehearsal room, a cinema, a gym and a Lego room. There are circular curtained-off meeting rooms, as in a dystopian hospital. There are cable cars to sit in for no reason. There’s a room with a piano in it. And free good food.

Now you’re talking! Plus, every day at 5pm they play the Heidi theme music, which is the signal to gather in the Hürlimann bar to drink beer and socialise in a relaxed manner that continues to make money.

Real snow on the floor so you can ski between desks? No.

In the cable-car work pods.
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 In the cable-car work pods. Photograph: Google

Fondue Fridays? Not as far as I’m aware. But they do enjoy where they are. “We’re delighted for the opportunity to be at the heart of Zurich during such exciting times,” says the head of Google Switzerland, Patrick Warnking.

Financial services-themed costume parties? Absolutely not.

Do say: “How dare these Americans turn a historic Swiss city into a nauseating monument to lavishness. Zurich is the home of Fifa, for goodness sake!”

Don’t say: “How do you expect me to enjoy the free flow of ideas without a desk made out of Toblerones?”

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