Google TM LogoGoogle… It means many things to many people, but in one way or another it touches all our lives.

The company that was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin has had such a profound influence on modern culture that the word Google is now used as a verb. If we’re not sure of a fact, or want to find what’s on at a local cinema or need to buy ink cartridges, then we ‘Google it’.

But Google’s scope is far wider than search; its products are many but include Google Maps, Google Earth, Google News, YouTube and its latest social network offering, Google+.

So Google’s products are without doubt adding value to our lives as consumers. However, for internet Retailers like, Google is one of the biggest opportunities and threats to our livelihood… We invest hundreds of man hours every month ensuring we are more ‘findable’ than our competitors, and spend far more money in advertising revenue that I’d care to share with you in this blog.

But who are the people behind the multicoloured logo? Are they just a bunch of geeks that sit in an underground bunker working on their latest algorithm changes? Well, we recently got the opportunity to see for ourselves…

Our search team was invited to a meeting with Google in their London offices for reasons I’ll not disclose here! Needless to say, the team was excited at the opportunity and a few days ago we arrived at the trendy office building in London where Google occupies several floors and employs 1200 people.

We made our way to the 9th floor in a lift which has no internal buttons. You can select your destination floor via a panel in the lobby but if you are staff, it knows from your wireless pass which floor you need!

Once on the 9th floor we were treated to a quick tour. And what a tour it was…Google Reception Area

TV Screens in the floor

We started with the reception area with its TV screens in the floor, show casing Google products of course! The walls were adorned with huge metallic Union Flag prints and seating was provided with an eclectic mix of pods and unusual shaped structures.

Moving on from reception we passed through to the library, which at its centre has a large circular shaped seating area with a multitude of cushions and surrounded with a curtain of tassels hanging from ceiling to floor. It was more reminiscent of a trendy nightclub or a 5 star hotel than office space.

The luxuriously Appointed Library

Next we saw the well appointed gym which has incredible views across London’s skyline and although it was an overcast day we could see Big Ben, the Shard and the London Eye – not a bad place to work out!

We then continued to pass through many different styled areas; most featuring plush carpets, cool seats, pods and one even had an inflatable meeting room!Gym Sign

Finally, it was time to grab a drink from one of the restaurants (which are all free!) and head to our meeting. Our hosts quickly dispelled the ‘geek’ perception – In fact they were charming, passionate about their company and clearly very customer focused. How refreshing…

Later on, over lunch we had time to find out more about the Google culture… We found out many facts – there’s the ‘Google stone’; that’s the stone in weight you put on due to all the free food. And you can bring your dog to work, as long as it is house trained! Possibly the most revealing insight was the comment from one of the Google guys  that “he had never worked anywhere where everyone worked so hard.”

So Google might be ultra trendy and seemingly full of perks, but what this achieves is a world class working environment which attracts the brightest minds, the most ambitious people and this is a great formula for any organisation with the desire to become a market leader. Of course Google isn’t just a market leader, they dominate search, they are the dominant brand on the web.

Seated Pod area overlooking London's SkylineUnion Flag in Google's Reception AreaWhilst most business may not have the cash to ‘Google-style’ their offices they can learn from Google… Creating an environment and culture that our people can cherish, where they can be creative and where they can perform to their maximum potential is an investment any ambitious business should be making.