Those Freakonomics Guys Guest Blog on Google

While browsing the Google Blog yesterday I ran across a post written by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner of Freakonomics fame about a presentation they gave for Google.

The thing that struck me most was the description of the Google environment. Aside from the actual description of the buildings at the beginning of the post, the following section really hit me as something worth noting:

After our talk, we spent a few minutes hanging around with miscellaneous Googlers. This was the most impressive slice of the day; not only were they all smart and inquisitive and friendly, but they were so damn happy. For instance, there’s surely no company in the world where so many employees wear t-shirts with their company logo, which we took to be a sign of deep pride (or perhaps simply a deep discount).

It struck me (and I guess given the bloggers identity that it might be helpful to find the data and look at it) that one of the reasons they don’t see more employees wearing t-shirts with their company logos is that many companies are still in the mindset in which their self-importance push dress codes on their employees in which t-shirts aren’t even part of the dress code. I think the value that a casual dress code brings to those who do not necessarily have physical customer contact is note quite what companies think it is. What it normally does for those people who have no customer or vendor contact is irritate them, which in turn, has a negative effect on morale of the departments rather than the expected behavior of “causing employees to act more professional”.

Some of the most energetic IT shops I’ve worked in have had casual dress codes and have been run like small, independent companies. The casual dress code changes peoples attitudes for the better, in my opinion, because it removes the possibility that you are being judged by how you dress and more for what you DO, which is the most important part of our industry anyway.

Just one more example of how Google “gets it”. It’s must be pretty damn cool to have the Freakonomics guys think that the most “impressive slice of their day” was hanging out with a group of employees that seemed invested (in the emotional sense), happy, and proud and know it was your company they were talking about.