back to article Another MYSTERY evacuation: Google UK empties swanky offices

Googlers have been chucked out of their central London office behind Tottenham Court Road station for the second time in about a month. There's no word yet on the reason for the latest evacuation, during which the entire plush building - home to various tech and media companies - was cleared out. People standing outside St …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google groups, Google places...

    ...,Google Flash mobs..

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taxman was visiting

    "See, only 3 employees and a meagre £100 turnover, no tax to pay here honest."

  3. LarsG

    Flash mobbed by text

    Which read 'free iPads outside reception"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Flash mobbed by text

    "Flash mobbed by text Which read 'free iPads outside reception"


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Flash mobbed by text

    You do know how corporation tax works right?

  6. Chris007

    Re: Flash mobbed by text @AC 0704 GMT

    You do know how humour works right?

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    They're taking this spring cleaning thing a bit too far.

    I'll get my coat and hang around outside.

  8. TheProf


    Someone having a crafty cigarette in the toilet. Again.

  9. David Barrett Silver badge

    Fire drill

    "The Googlers had spent around 20 mins outside at the time the shot was taken and hadn't been told of a fire drill"

    Why would they be told if it was a drill? Its not a proper fire drill if they all know about it and are sat with their coats on all packed up and ready to go five minutes in advance.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Fire drill

    If, as seems to be implied, it's happened more than once recently, the most likely explanation is that the building's owners are having some electrical work done and the muppets have triggered the fire alarms. Again.

    I was in an office with that problem not so long ago. Worst bit was that 'cos it wasn't a planned drill, every time it happened we all had to stand around and wait 'til the fire brigade tipped up to stick their noses in the place and say it was all OK.

    I always make a point of nipping back to my office and grabbing my jacket and cigs if the alarm goes off. I reckon that the 0.00001% chance of it being a real fire, a serious one and the slight delay caused making any difference in that situation is vastly outweighed by the 100% chance of being fagless and frozen while waiting outside.

  11. dotdavid

    Re: Fire drill

    Indeed. I'm not entirely sure why this is newsworthy; when the company I work for moved into our new office we had loads of unannounced evacuations, mainly because the builders (who were still fitting out some of the office space) kept setting off the fire alarm, presumably by accident. One time an actual fire (caused by a dishwasher) did it. At no point have I noticed any roving El Reg reporters snapping photos of us.

    But maybe that's because we don't have little company signs to cluster around - usually a quick team headcount is done at a local place of safety, which usually coincidentally serves some form of alcoholic beverage. Many of these places of safety have stout doors and cellars where you can wait, in fact, so they make ideal evacuation locations if for example there is a bomb threat or something else more exotic than a fire.

  12. Colin Millar

    Re: Fire drill

    Missing comma shirley

    "Many of these places of safety have stout, doors and cellars"

  13. magickmark

    Re: Fire drill

    Well a glass of Guiness may help smooth the situation?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fire drill

    I was working on a nuclear site when the alarms went off. Site induction had taught us the first thing to do was to close all windows and doors, and then tag my RF ID card against a muster point. I then stood around twiddling my thumbs, with a niggling thought I may have forgotten something.

    The site had one of those wonderfully crackly Tannoy systems that rendered every other word inaudible*, so the site-wide message sounded like: "Would David kr----- please kr------ muster kr----team". I picked up up the phone and contacted the muster team, assuring them them I was fine. Five minutes later the Tannoy spoke up again, this time slightly clearer: "Would David kr----- please muster in the canteen". D'oh! I arrived to find a thousand people waiting for me.

    The 'fire' turned out to be some dust in a Portacabin.

    *Messages were always repeated, and the system seemed happier once warmed up, so with luck you would be able to comprehend up to 75% of what was being broadcast.

  15. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: Fire drill

    I did a school trip to Sellafield. And was very impressed by the loud noises and attention that you get when someone accidentally sets off a radiation alarm.

    Alarm was the appropriate word for my state of mind at the time too...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fire drill

    Well, the classic was the old boy who dropped his wristwatch into the bottom of cooling pond, in a bid to brighten up its tritium dial. The next day he walks in with what looks like a limp, but is actually a fishing rod secreted down his trousers... he retrieved his watch, then attempted to exit the building through the sensor-laden turnstyle.... cue loud sirens and a hose down.

    When Terry Pratchett said that he's considered writing up his time working as a press officer for these power stations, but hasn't on the grounds he doesn't think anyone would believe him - he isn't, for once, joking.

  17. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Re: Fire drill

    I work in a knicker factory in Bangladesh (not really, or I wouldn't be reading this) and I take the risk of fire very seriously indeed. In fact it is my job to unlock the fire exit if it turns out there really is a fire.

  18. Dr_N Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Fire drill

    Or the nascent eco-green warrior who tripped the sensors when leaving after visiting one nuclear power station.

    After much angst and shouts about being irradiated by the CEGB someone pointed out that the guy was wearing an old watch with luminous dial markings. "You'll get more of a dose wearing that thing than working here!" one clever so-and-so pointed out to him....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fire drill

    Also: It's entirely possible that the last time they did it was a complete balls up, with people refusing to leave the office because "it's obviously a fire drill, I'm not moving, my work's too important." So the people in charge do it again until everyone does it properly.

    I've seen this at every company I've ever worked for, there is always one person is too busy or who's work is too important for a fire drill. They'll also be the one's who are too busy not to burn to death in the event of a fire, mind...

  20. dajames Silver badge

    Re: Fire drill

    When Terry Pratchett said that he's considered writing up his time working as a press officer for these power stations, but hasn't on the grounds he doesn't think anyone would believe him - he isn't, for once, joking.

    I would refer you to David Langford's novel The Leaky Establishment which -- apart from being a damn good read -- is said to be a truer depiction of life in places like (to pick one at random, and not because Langford used to work there) AWE Aldermaston than most people can comfortably credit.

    Icon ... well, obviously!

  21. Why Not?

    Re: Fire drill

    Agree its probably just a repeat alarm because of lack of interest.

    Happened at a few places I worked.

    But it may be like a site I once did some work at, They had the Emergency Button behind a row of racks, placed just so when you opened one of the rack doors it swung and hit the button.

    Whole site went dark and curses heard across London. I walked out trying not to roll on the floor laughing.

  22. Ross K Silver badge

    Most likely...

    ...explanation is that the Google Maps car was passing. They get to stand outside for that great event.

    This was the Dublin office in 2011:

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Most likely...

    Face blurring algorithm disabled... is that allowed?

  24. xad001x0w

    Re: Most likely...

    Did anyone else notice the gimp suits and the strange silver rectangle this man is holding:

  25. deains

    Re: Most likely...

    You need to show "willing intent" to be visible on the photos. I was told that apparently, if you print out a photo of yourself and stick it to your face, Google won't blur it out for this reason. Or at least, they'll consider not blurring it out, presumably based on how stupid the photo looks.

  26. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Re: Most likely...

    Rotate the picture to the left and you can see the member of the catering staff who brought the lunch out on the street in case it got away.

    "No, that's not a typo on the restaurant menu, we always serve panda in cheese sauce on Wednesday"

  27. Winkypop Silver badge

    They almost look like normal people


  28. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: They almost look like normal people

    And normal people have large elliptical eyes, green skin and no body hair?

  29. ukgnome Silver badge

    Go on give us a Google wave. Oh, sorry.

    Funniest caption this year (so far)

  30. Baudwalk

    I realise Google are crap at anything to do with customer service...

    ... but I didn't know they were just as poor at informing their employees about why things go tits up.

    I assume a reason will be given afterwards. Would not giving one even be legal, workplace regulations wise?

  31. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: I realise Google are crap at anything to do with customer service...

    >... but I didn't know they were just as poor at informing their employees about why things go tits up.

    You've never heard the HR dept expression "Make them part of the facilities management team, where they can't do much harm"?

  32. Captain Underpants

    Re: I realise Google are crap at anything to do with customer service...


    What part of "informing their employees about why things go tits up." involves telling someone at The Register about it?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh, go hang out on South Bank

    You'll see the IBMers do this fairly regularly too. Of course they're not as hip or good looking...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Meh, go hang out on South Bank

    Speak for yourself, I'm gorgeous.

  35. Dave 62

    "Google's Lego-like building"??

    Just looks like a regular building with some hideous cladding to me.

  36. Flywheel Silver badge

    Apple Maps told them the Google office had moved 6 metres to the left..

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was shocked that I'd made it almost to the end of the comments and no one had blamed Apple yet... but now it's ok, normal Reg service resumed!

  38. Stuart 22

    Bang On!

    Reminds me when I worked for a (then famous) computer company at the top of TCR in the 70s at a time when our Irish chums were a bit fractious. A mysterious bomb threat was received most Fridays around 3pm. Those that had returned from the pub returned to the pub and hence unable to hear the all-clear call, or anything else.

    In those non-digital days it took sometime to trace the calls to an extension inside the building ...

  39. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    local talent?

    I used to work in a building nearby, we had loads of fire alarm evacuations -- we reckoned it was the women doing it as there were queues to see the firemen when they turned up.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my guess is they're testing for "location location location"

    something to to with not making any profit in the UK with a sizeable turnover (oh, a couple of billion), and some politicians suggesting, that if you have a presence in the country, you should pay them taxes here. So, if those politicians finally make up their mind and make it known, then in certain cases, taxes have to be paid, the google workers get the signal and: whooosh - like the Norwegian Blue - gone, to the fjords, or such place...

  41. LinkOfHyrule

    Those google signs LMAO

    I don't know why but they are just inherently funny! They remind me a little of those little balloon shaped markers you get on google maps! Maybe somewhere in the crowd there's a little orange chappy who's job is something to do with streetview?

  42. Matthew 3

    Re: Those google signs LMAO

    They should have used the same giant red balloon-shaped markers that you get on Google maps.

  43. Inachu

    I know I know I know

    Its the old style fire drill! Ok everyone hear the obnoxious noise? Yes it means that you must stop playing angry bird and leave to go outside while the angry bird farm servers are burning.


    Where can I make some of these signs?

    I can have great fun leading disorientated oompahloompahs around London when there is next one of these.

  45. tempemeaty

    Weird stuff

    If execs what things done with servers not to be seen doing it by the drill....

  46. Anonymous John

    Coincidence, or did the source phone 999?

  47. bag o' spanners

    The fun part is phoning the slack doofuses who think it's an all day event with full pay, to inform them that they've got to come back to the grindstone or lose half a day's paid holiday, just as they're getting their pipe and slippers warmed up.

    I had a job where the evacuation rendezvous point was half a mile away from the building we worked in. I've never seen so many people walk so slowly. I'm more inclined to send the PFY as a token presence for the headcount, while the sensibles plot and scheme in a nice warm coffee shop. I'm also fairly certain that the evil bastids who plan these random evacuations wait patiently for the wettest day of the year before launching the alarm system, so I make sure I'm dressed for arctic monsoon conditions before scarpering.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire Alarms and people staying put...

    I work in a casino- while the employees will cheerfully evacuate the building when the alarm goes off, the patrons... don't. But then, stranger things happen.

    Anon to protect my paycheck.

  49. Herby Silver badge

    Fire Drill??

    Just so you know, some smoke detectors have magnetic reed switches in them for testing purposes. With a small magnet one can trip the smoke detector (which can't tell the difference!) and have an instant "fire drill break". Quite handy if it is a warm day outside and they have a special at the coffee shop across the way.

    The magnet I saw used was one that was about a 1 inch cube. Pretty strong one, but readily available. It was put on the end of a stick (I guess something like a pool cue would work as well).

  50. Lghost

    Oompa-Loompas worship at shrine to Yggdrasil

    Wood also explain their interior design..

    Tux..because LGX..and I used the same design ( I had to paint it on a ceiling in St Tropez as a classic trompe l'oeil ) on business cards at the time.. 1995


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