i Editor's Letter: Workplace culture matters


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The Independent Online


My penultimate letter as proud i editor is inspired by a meeting with a good friend who has landed a fabulous new job at Google! The tax thing is for another time; this is about workplace culture.

As we surveyed the bright, buzzy young things (and occasional grey hair) in one of the outstanding restaurants within Google’s exciting new offices, it was obvious how proud and energised they were to work there. That might even be about more than free fresh fruit, muesli, a range of breads and coffee – enough for me.

Google’s pledge to its own staff is to help them be the best they can be at work by being themselves. It’s not just a platitude. Many are hired, via multiple interviews, without actually being asked how they would do the job, it being assumed they can, given they have got that far. Instead, Google works incredibly hard on both finding the right fit with colleagues and tailoring roles around skills. It’s beguiling. One can almost ignore the vending machine filled with Google-branded products for cult members – sorry, staff.

Typically, for a journalist whose career has spanned my industry’s decline over the past two decades, I’ve worked in some real s***holes, rats and all. The one time I worked in a truly inspiring space (apart from Manhattan) was a brief foray beyond journalism in the stunning Imagination building. It gave me a buzz every day. Does this matter? Not as much as the work itself, or like-minded colleagues, but environment and culture matter more than many employers believe, and has been largely lost in the attitude shift of so many industries to workers being lucky simply to have a job. True, but it’s a fraction of what the relationship could be. Want proof? Google it!