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Behind the Scenes | Meet the Nooglers

What’s it like to canoodle over organic mac and cheese (that would be the corporate cafeteria) and bounce ideas off the brainy creatives bringing Google Fiber and Google Glass to Austin?

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Move over, Hipster, there’s a Noogler in town. Ever since Google came to Austin in 2007, the company has been enticing new talent—called “Nooglers” in the quirky corporate parlance—with Texas-sized opportunities and heavily touted office perks like in-office massage and yoga, yurts and “huddles” for loungy collaboration, video games, pool tables, pianos, cafes and "microkitchens" stocked with healthy food, and good old-fashioned whiteboards for spur-of-the-moment brainstorming. And the Nooglers are coming in droves—young creatives with curious minds and a collective, collaborative outlook. They’re civic-minded, open to new experiences, and hardworking. They form social committees and carpool to the office at 183 and MoPac from their downtown lofts. If this all sounds reminiscent of front-porch-sitting and Welcome Wagons, that’s not accidental. Google corporate culture is built around the idea of “casual collisions,” water cooler lingo for a new millennium in which innovation springs from bumping into a colleague in a play area or around a communal table—in other words, the kinds of social encounters that used to happen in our public spaces effortlessly and spontaneously but are now rare in our modern, hermetically sealed, suburban reality. It’s a beautiful day in the Google neighborhood—what’s it like to be on their block? We caught up with Google People Operations site leader Greg Garrison to find out.

When Nooglers move to Austin, what are some of the things they are most excited to discover in our community?

It doesn’t take long for newcomers to get immersed in Austin’s outdoor activities, from paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake to “hiking” Mount Bonnell to taking a dip in Barton Springs. And there’s the never-ending supply of fantastic restaurants, each with its own unique spin. Googlers also love to give back, so we’re eager to develop relationships with local nonprofits and volunteer organizations.

What are the biggest challenges for Nooglers coming to Austin?

Fortunately, people in Austin are some of the friendliest folks in the world, which makes meeting new people less challenging. For those of us who come from big cities with more public transportation, adjusting to driving again can be interesting. Many of us also come from cooler climates, so the Texas heat can take some getting used to.

Most importantly, how do you explain queso?

Queso is Texas. From the legendary Matt's El Rancho's Bob Armstrong to Torchy's Tacos' green chile queso, you really can't go wrong. I definitely encourage my colleagues to try queso firsthand, and often—just make sure to maintain your workout regimen!

Video games, slumber-party snacks, and long hours: how do Nooglers navigate the divide between work and play?

Whether it's playing Ping-Pong or shooting pool, Googlers use these opportunities to get to know their colleagues better. In many ways, this is how work and play are blended. Teams will often meet around these areas as a way to socialize while still maintaining their focus at work. Great conversations and ideas can emerge from a game of pool.

Credits

Photography by Leah Overstreet

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