One of our new hires took over the visionary project during my vacation. He’s in his probation period – in Germany that means 2 weeks notice and the company doesn’t have to provide any reason for dismissal. Consequently, the infrastructure now looks very close to what our boss wanted. We have one power socket and one RJ45 wall socket, not per desk, but per 10 desks. The cost of WLAN cards means that WLAN is only used by management; for stationary PCs we have a bunch of switches under the desks and loads of cables all over.

We also have massively linked extension cords all over. I really wish I could post photos here. Suffice it to say that they managed to take out half the office’s power on the second day after someone tripped over cables. The CEO insisted that the cables be in the same light gray as the floor so as to “not look so disorderly”.

The warehouse is one big room. There is little furniture – just the desks and chairs and PCs and maybe two file cabinets – and over 70 people on 500 square meters. The floor is uneven, spotty, and looks shabby as hell. The lack of a carpet not only is a severe aesthetic problem, it also contributes to one other thing: Echo. If there’s two people in the office, you can hear their keyboards everywhere. If all 70+ people are in, well, you could just as well be working in the grand terminal hall of Frankfurt International.

Actually, the Terminal feels quieter than our warehouse office.

There are not enough keys. I have one, but only for the upstairs door, not for the exterior building door. So do a few other employees. Not even every team has one. I do not have set hours when I start working, and last Thursday I arrived an hour later than usual. Seven people were waiting, one of them had been there for almost two hours, because none of them could open the office doors.

Electricity is another worry. The lights are flickering. We can switch on any three out of four “rows” of lamps, and they are fine. Switch on the fourth, and things go Disco. I am told that we had three electricians make offers independently of each other: Two had grim looks on their faces, made a long list of problems with the power infrastructure, and submitted offers of 30k+ Euro. The third got the contract. He had been brought in by the CEO, smiled a lot, and then installed a bunch of power sockets and lamps for a total of 3k Euro.

Then there’s the light. The natural one, the big sphere of fire that sometimes hangs in the sky. Half the office sits with their back to the south window, which runs across the entire length of the warehouse. There are no curtains, shutters, nor blinds. We have matte LCD screens, but I’ve tested it: Working on those desks is like sitting in fog. You can hardly make out text even if it’s black on white.

With all the money we saved, we did some great things, though. Our CEO ordered a ping pong table, a table football, and a set of new games consoles after the old ones mysteriously disappeared during the move.

So that what became of the original vision of making the work place attractive for new employees. I somehow doubt anybody would leave Google for this.

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