Have your cake and eat it at tech firms
This article first appeared in The Straits Times on Sept 27
Employees at local offices of Facebook, Google and other IT firms enjoy free meals
Big tech companies such as Google and Facebook believe that the route to creating happy and productive employees is through their stomachs.
Employees in the United States enjoy free freshly cooked food and snacks and beverages throughout the day. It is no different in the tech giants' offices here.
Over at Facebook's new office in Cecil Street, its staff can relax in a coffee shop-styled cafe with an outdoor patio. Food is freshly prepared and delivered daily by a caterer. Daily hot soup or sandwiches, salads and pastries are within easy reach. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, snacks and even wine are available throughout the day.
A Facebook spokesman said that it does not keep track of the number of meals it serves daily. Over at search giant Google, its new office in Asia Square 1, off Shenton Way, boasts a kitchen with chefs and cooks.
A Google spokesman explained that its food culture "exemplifies the ability for people to break barriers between departments, even if just for a few hours each day". Seats are hard to find at its "Goopitiam" during lunch hour.
Googlers can choose between local, Indian, vegetarian and Western food. There are also salads, cheese and fruits. Beverages and snacks are also available throughout the day. Goopitiam serves about 200 meals a day.
Over at tech start-up New Context located in Craig Road, employees can help themselves to coffee, tea and snacks. But the company, which provides software development services, also has a fridge where at least 10 different types of beer are being chilled.
Managing director Carl Coryell-Martin said: "We offer the beer to our guests but our people usually pick up a bottle or two at about 5pm (Singapore time) as they are winding down from work for the day."
The firm's 10 employees also meet for breakfast every weekday at 8.45am. Breakfast gives people a reason to come in early, he said, and be on time for the company meeting at exactly 9.06am, which lasts between four and eight minutes.
"It also gives people a chance to bond socially over meals. People like to do this. Everyone having breakfast at the same time tends to synchronise people's circadian rhythms so they work together more effectively throughout the day."
Lunch once a week is also provided, usually during a tech talk. Mr Coryell-Martin said: "Food is a slightly unusual and remarkable perk, so it helps in our recruiting."
Over at games peripheral company Razer, free buffet lunches are catered every day for the Singapore office in Chai Chee Lane. Every Friday, it is special lunch packs from Boon Tong Kee, famous for its chicken rice, Qiji, popular for its nasi lemak, or McDonald's.
The first multinational company that employed a chef to set up a kitchen here was probably Hewlett-Packard back in the 1990s. But employees had to pay for the food, albeit at a subsidised price.
It also provided free coffee, tea and snacks in the mornings and afternoons. But the cafeteria has long gone and free "tea time" is no longer provided.
BEER ON THE HOUSE
We offer the beer to our guests but our people usually pick up a bottle or two at about 5pm as they are winding down from work for the day.
- New Context managing director Carl Coryell-Martin, whose company has a fridge where at least 10 different types of beer are being chilled