During the first half of the 20th century, people talked of “house style,” “esprit maison” in French, as a way to describe the spirit that leaders of corporations wanted to infuse in their companies. Today this somewhat paternalistic concept seems a little old-fashioned. And yet in many ways, corporate culture is house style’s heir. It has become a formidable weapon for all companies, including the most recent—and Google is no exception.

Google’s culture first reveals itself in its employee benefits. The list is indeed impressive: free meals; massage treatments, medical and dental care at work; onsite gym, swimming pool, personal training, and yoga; company hairdressers; dry cleaners, and car wash; incentives on hybrid car purchases; extended maternity leave; life insurance; and so on. All of this has obviously contributed to creating a laid-back atmosphere and an employee-friendly environment. But make no mistake, this is not just about being kind. If Google is looking for ways to boost employees’ well-being, it is doing so as a way to increase their productivity.

Company perks, the wide range of services provided to employees on site, save them precious time, which can then be redirected toward their work. People stay focused on their jobs. And they can fully enjoy their social lives without eating into their work time.

But at the same time, Google’s culture obviously goes much further than these ...

Get Thank You For Disrupting now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.