The Scroll: Google vs. UST

Because St. Thomas has received a couple of local best places to work honors, I was immediately interested when I read that Google had been named Fortune magazine’s best place to work in the world for the fourth year running. Here was an opportunity to see what it takes to break into the big time.

Dr. Susan Alexander

Dr. Susan Alexander

Mentioned first were compensation, childcare, work-life balance and health benefits. OK, so it will take some money, I thought, but at least we have a child development center and a work-life balance link on the HR page of our website. This should get us started.

But a lot of places have these. What’s Google got that UST could use to move into the national workplace rankings? I read on:

  • 100,000 hours of free massage
  • 1,000 bikes maintained for employee use
  • A wellness center
  • Sports complex

So far, so good. Fortune, waxing eloquent, pronounced Google as “almost like a college campus with free food, benefits for pets and electric cars.” We were doing OK until the free food part. I love the stir fry in Anderson, but free it’s not. Maybe at a stretch I could think of the golf carts and the Hour Cars as electric, though, and, of course, we do have the Department of Dog Advocacy, but the cat people are on their own.

Google also has garden plots for employees to grow their own – vegetables, that is. St. Thomas is probably too space-challenged for that, but there is the community garden.

The Google perk that really got my attention was the nap pods. The Google vice president of work place services recommends five- to 15-minute power naps for all employees. Our Leather Room is nice but those pods look really comfy. I am 100 percent sure productivity would go up if only we had a better place for power naps.

The benefit that looked really perfect for St. Thomas is the Google version of the conference room. Google replaces the traditional conference table and chairs with such creative choices as diner booths, a ski gondola in Zurich, a sidewalk café in Istanbul and a pub in Dublin. We would be on a roll – Archbishop John Ireland would really like that pub.

But then my quest for national recognition hit the skids. Google research shows that the one color to be avoided at all costs is … purple.