Google, Microsoft rated best places to work

Google has been declared as the best place to work in the UK, with Microsoft coming top in Europe, according to the Great Place to Work (GPTW) Institute.

The top three best large workplaces in Europe were all IT companies, with Microsoft, Google and Cisco coming first, second and third respectively. The results were part of an annual survey that the GPTW Institute has been publishing since 2003.

It showed information technology and internet companies dominating the top of the lists. This acknowledged the fact that they were usually the first companies pioneering new ways of working.

They were flexible in measuring performance by output rather than hours in the office. Overall, 75 per cent of the top workplaces in Europe had some or all employees working flexible hours.

Microsoft was particularly good in providing employees with IT and mobile devices so that they could work flexibly. The FT quoted one Microsoft employee as saying: "Managers and technical experts are freely accessible in many ways... You can walk up to their desks, send an instant message, send an e-mail, make a phone call, etc."

"And their agendas are visible - you can see whether they are available or busy. I've never worked for an organisation as open as this."

Google did well because of its innovative and fun activities which were designed to encourage staff to meet, interact and work as a team. Massage tables and video games are part of the Google offices.

With work, the emphasis was on engaging employees. "What makes Google a great place to work is that the nature of the work itself is very challenging and interesting," Nick Cresswell, the company's university programmes manager for EMEA, said to the FT.

"And for the type of people who really enjoy an intellectual challenge, that's the biggest appeal of working here," he added.

The Great Place to Work Institute carries out studies in 30 countries worldwide, with more than 3000 companies participating. It is the largest survey of its kind in the world.