High-Tech Hippies, and Other Industry News

Our weekly roundup of workplace news from around the web.

Nikil Saval says this rendering of Google's new campus "evokes space colonies as they might have been imagined in the '60s". Image: DBOX for BIG Heatherwick and Google, via nytimes.com.
A rendering of Google’s new campus. Image: DBOX for BIG Heatherwick and Google, via nytimes.com.
  • If tech is the future, why does it look so much like the past? In last week’s T Magazine, Nikil Saval explores the connection between the plans for the new Google and Apple HQs and the hippie communes of the 1960s: “Like the rest of Silicon Valley . . . this future is in fact rooted in the past. It comes, transfigured, from the wrecked dreams of communal living, of back-to-the-land utopias, of expanding plastic spheres and geodesic domes that populated the landscape of Northern California around the time (and around the same place) that the first semiconductors were being perfected,” he writes, adding that “[i]t may sound unlikely, but there is in fact a strong connection between the utopian movements of the ’60s and the tech industry.”
  • “The idea of regularly accommodating kids — even infants — for a certain number of hours each day has until recently been avoided by employers, as the prospect of a co-worker’s kid occupying a cubicle may seem like crossing a line,” writes Daniel Moore for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But in the wake of the Adam LaRoche kerfuffle, he wonders: “Should employers be flexible in letting employees bring children to work?”
  • Etsy‘s new Brooklyn office: ” …819 employees — not the sellers but the people keeping the Etsy servers up and running and everything else — work in something like an extremely cozy private welfare state. There is free lunch, there is on-site continuing education, there is someone with pink hair to reinflate the tires of the bike you were sweetly encouraged to ride to work. Every Etsy employee is given 40 paid hours off annually to devote to volunteer work; the company covers 100 percent of health-care premiums and for years made a point of paying American salaries at least 40 percent above the local living wage. Just last month, Etsy announced a near-unprecedented paid-parental-leave policy — 26 weeks for men and women, applicable to birth, adoption, or surrogacy. Cynics say that tech companies swaddle their employees in order to tighten their claims on them, but it’s very hard to find an Etsy worker complaining about the free pottery workshops going on downstairs.” And we haven’t even shown you the photos!
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