What's the big deal about Mongolian Milk? Read this.

Netease recently took pictures of the Google office in Beijing's Wudouko area, (across the street from my very local high rise Hutong). Looks a little like ourMSRA floors but definitely not our ATC space.

Through careful scrutiny of the pictures I can conclude that they stock their pantry with the same liquids and snacks as we do but with more accessibility. The big difference it that they allow staff to get snacks off the shelf wereas we need to ask our Ayi's (thats like old office tea ladies who act as mail/delivery/copy/fax/stationary/food custodians) to open the locked drawers so we can get cookies, crackers and ramen noodles.

Neema and I have discussed this in the past of how office space determines or reflects free thought and creativity. An excellent book which used to be a required MS reading for PM is Peopleware. Your physical environment effects you more than you think. The simplicity of having privacy not only increases productivity but it also improves morale. Maybe being in China, where the sense of privacy and personal space is different than in the west means that our offices also need to be different. Maybe it could be that Chinese people tolerate more cramped spaces and more shared desk space  with their colleagues. Some Chinese families live in one room, why can' t all of one danwei work in one cubicle area as well.

It would be interesting to see how Chinese workers feel about Silicon Valley like open spaces like in the Googleplex vs. Redmond style corridors of offices.



Frank Yu

UPDATE Here are Flickr Pix of the Beijing Complex