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If you want to work for top employer Google, you don't have to move to Silicon Valley. The American tech company also has an office in the Netherlands. What is it like to work there?
Link to original dutch article
Every year Google finishes high in the rankings for 'best employer'. The 85,000 employees of the American tech company receive excellent working conditions and many opportunities to develop themselves. In addition, the office looks fantastic. The headquarters of the world's largest search engine is known as the crème de la crème of tech campuses. No boring gray workspace, but colourful, light and creatively designed workspaces. Employees also receive free meals and are allowed to exercise during working hours.
Is working for Google really that great? And what about the smaller office in Amsterdam? The German Katharina Hicker works for Google Northern Europe and has seen about ten different 'Googleplexes' inside. At the moment she works in Amsterdam. Before joining Google, she was a PR specialist at McDonalds Germany. She came into contact with the tech company through a workshop on online advertising. “The positive atmosphere immediately appealed to me. And I admit: the free perks seemed like a lot of fun too.”
To move house
Within a few weeks she moved to Ireland for a job at Google in Dublin. “I thought it was very exciting, I had never been to Ireland. Moreover, it was not a PR position, but a job with the sales team.”
Hicker also had to get used to the different way of working at Google. "Now I don't want anything else," she says. “I can set my own priorities and organize my agenda. If I break down at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I can easily go to the gym for an hour to clear my head.”
She spent a lot of time in the office, especially in the beginning. “Not because I was working so much, but because there is so much to do,” she explains. “There is a bar, a restaurant, a swimming pool. You can exercise, meditate and there is even a doctor present.”
About 7,000 people of 60 different nationalities work at the European headquarters. The average age is between 35 years. Hicker: “With such a young, international team there is not only a lot of creativity, but there are also plenty of social activities after work.”
There are also drawbacks to all that freedom and perks at the office. On job site Indeed, former Google employees complain about the lack of work-life balance. For motivated employees who set their own agenda, it can be difficult to set boundaries. Hicker recognizes that criticism, but has never had a problem with it himself. “If you continue to work for a long time, your manager will come and ask why that is the case. If it happens more often, then you see together whether you can do something about it.”
Six months ago, Hicker changed jobs within the company. “After two years of sales, I still wanted to continue in PR,” she says. “At Google you are allowed to spend 20 percent of your working time on projects that do not belong to your own job. In addition to my normal work, I started working with internal communication. My team organized all sorts of crazy activities, such as hugs on entry, Friday afternoon dress-up parties, and guest speaker presentations. I really enjoyed it and came to the conclusion that this was what I wanted to develop further.”
She was transferred to Amsterdam for a few months. There, she is now responsible for Google's business-to-business communications in seven Northern European countries.
“Every Google office is different,” says Hicker. “First of all, the office in Amsterdam is much smaller than the one in Dublin: only a few hundred people work there.”
The decor is typical Google with a Dutch touch. They see stroopwafel patterns on the ceiling, there is a snack wall to charge your phone and the meeting rooms have typical Dutch names. “Other Googlers are jealous of our conference caravan in the office.”
Furthermore, the average age at Google Amsterdam is somewhat higher. “Many colleagues have children and drinks often end early,” says Hicker. The way of working is the same, but the working atmosphere is more serious. “There's always something going on in Dublin and that's super cool, but it can also be difficult at times if you want to concentrate. The Amsterdam office is quieter. I can also learn a lot because my colleagues are more experienced.”
What are the similarities? “Just like in Dublin, there are many different nationalities working there. There are colorful hot desks, a gym and free healthy meals. The meals also differ per country. After the typical Irish breakfast I had to get used to the Dutch sandwiches…”