Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Secrets of Amazon HQ

RHYS BOWEN: Most of you know that my stand-alone novels are published by LAKE UNION , one of the Amazon publishing companies. They are actually doing rather well and I was invited to visit Amazon headquarters in Seattle when I was on my way up to Left Coast Crime in Vancouver.

So I thought I'd like to share my impressions of that day because the place is--well--unusual and spectacular.  The first thing you notice is there aren't really any offices as we know them. Lots of spaces and cafes and secluded areas to network and create. And the buildings are dog friendly so expect to meet a dog around every corner. There are pooch-parking stands for when the owners want to go into a food court, and dog parks at various levels of the building (including fire hydrants).

Every desk is simply a board with two legs. No drawers, no personal stuff. This is because Jeff Bezos's first desk was a door on two trestles. And people are moved around a lot, to encourage networking and interacting. It was all very open. The marketing types like this but I think it would be hard for editors to do their work in peace and quiet.

Everywhere the theme is creativity. Employees are encouraged to write on walls and windows to jot down ideas. There are craft rooms with resident artists where employees can join in making pieces of artwork. This is knitted glass!

There are things like large Scrabble boards in hallways. I liked this one!

 The headquarters is composed of three tower buildings and between them is something called The Spheres--giant glass balls filled with tropical rainforests. Jeff Bezos wants people to go inside and get recharged with oxygen and tranquility!



There are the secure floors. Only people with a special pass can get through the electronic doors, because what goes on inside is top secret! (I was allowed in! )
I suppose security and spying are always a concern. In the elevators there are old WWII posters saying Loose Lips Sink Ships and underneath added And Also Projects!

Then there is the wall with portraits of those authors who have sold a million books for Amazon.
I'm delighted to say my portrait will be joining them as soon as it's ready!
Would I like to work there? Probably not. I need my own space and privacy and quiet to write. I can't work at Starbucks like some people. But am I glad I joined them? Hell yes!!

40 comments:

  1. How interesting! I never would have guessed . . . I think I might long for a bit of peace and quiet after a while . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  2. It must have been so cool to have toured the headquarters, Rhys. I'm a big fan of the dog friendly atmosphere. I would never have guessed that. I'm curious how they feel about kids. Any childcare available there? And while the open working spaces seem quite freeing in theory, I would also need my quiet contained area for my most productive work, or at least I think I would. How about music? Do they have any piped in music? Do the cafes have food other than snacks? Did you see many people taking advantage of the green spaces? And, wow and way to go, Rhys! Your picture on the million books sold wall! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is such a good question, Kathy. Dog friendly but not kid friendly! My author relations person has just had a baby and there is nowhere to nurse or pump! Designed for single men, I guess. All those computer geeks! No music but there were a few people in the spheres.

      Delete
    2. I’m disappointed to hear that it’s not child-friendly, but maybe that will come in the future.

      DebRo

      Delete
    3. What about the ladies' restrooms? Do you need a key to get into the restroom?

      Delete
    4. Nothing wrong with the restrooms and the elevators work themselves.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on your million book photo and a fascinating overview of the headquarters.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What fun Rhys--I hope you didn't take photos of anything top secret! we'll have to come and bust you out...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a minder with me all the time and I asked permission

      Delete
  5. What an amazing workspace. I once toured Facebook and the “office” spaces were similar to what you describe. But I could never imagine the botanical garden!! And the domes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congratulations, Rhys, on joining the million club, and thank you for the behind the scenes look. I don't think I would leave the gardens.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We,are SO PROUD of you, Rhys!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nancy. Did you get to see the building last week?

      Delete
  8. Wow Rhys ! What a fantastic visit, I' m very happy for you.
    What thrill it must be for you to know that your picture will be on this wall. You certainly deserve it with all your good work.
    I don't think that I could work in this kind of space but it seems to be good for those who do.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations on the Million Club Membership!!! I LOVE the Scrabble board!

    That said...No drawers? No Drawers? NO DRAWERS!!?! I would have to have a box I could carry from one workspace to the next. It would have my little divided trays with paperclips, post-it notes, white-out, staple remover, rubber bands, and most importantly, an ample supply of my fav pencils and pens. Not to mention those wonderful binder clips in just the right size.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What an amazing concept; it reminds me of Pixar when Steve Jobs was running it, a very creative place to work. I would love to work in a dog-friendly building.

    Rhys, when they add your photo to their million dollar authors, try to post a pic for us!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Off the charts amazing. SO fabulous! Xxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fascinating to have this tour. Thank you, Rhys. But, please, don't make me work in such an atmosphere! At my workplace, we are moving inexorably towards what is being called "hoteling" as work spaces: no one will have their own private desks anymore, all shared by everyone. With luck, I'll be gone before it's introduced!

    ReplyDelete
  13. So interesting, Rhys! Sort of like a creative pre-school for grownups. I would love the gardens, but not so much the open plan work space and being moved around all the time. And I'm horrified that they are not kid and mom friendly. They should do better.

    So proud of you, Rhys!! And what a thrill!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'd say Bezos is thinking way outside the box here. It wouldn't be for everyone, that's for sure.

    Congratulations on your significant achievement, Rhys. You deserve the honor, and then some!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Amazon is lucky to have you, Rhys!

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
  16. Rhys, great photos! I love the huge Scrabble board. What a thrill it must have been to visit the Amazon HQ. I had a funny scenario in mind for a Bewitched episode. Cousin Serene who likes to stir things up would zap Jeff Bezos into a woman and a nursing mother, making the HQ more family friendly with spaces for nursing mothers. LOL.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the insider view, Rhys. A million books! Amazingly deserved. Too bad Bezos is/was not a cat or gerbil fancier, the image of that office amuses me. Count me as one of those with my board and bricks in the broom closet trying to focus.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congratulations and thanks for the inside looks . . . now, how does one knit GLASS?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for the "tour".
    You deserve every one of those million books!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for the look behind the scenes.

    I'd find trying to work in the environment hard, too. Then again, accountants don't have to be that creative. And I need someplace to stick my current book for reading on my lunch hour.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Interesting but I wouldn't want to work there. I didn't have a lot of personal things when I was working but needed my Kleenex box and mug, and, of course pens, pencils, clips, etc. and all the notebooks and cheat sheets for work. Maybe they are that creative that they can keep everything in their head and don't have to write things down or keep notes. Wait until they get older. Glad I am retired.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congrats on your million books sold!

    ReplyDelete
  23. CONGRATULATIONS, RHYS!!! This is the best news EVER!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. CONGRATULATIONS, RHYS!!! This is the best news EVER!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Congratulations on being add the wall of well selling authors. Fascinating place. Not too sure I could handle the open environment. There are times I have problems with cubicals. Too bad about childcare and to honest, I'd probably be too distracted by the dogs.... Again, congratulations on your honor.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow. Thanks for that inside peek! (I forgot to read this morning - because Malice. And post-banquet...)

    Shame on them for not having child care and nursing room. Really - a million thumbs down.

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a thrill to read about your hitting the one-million mark, Rhys! Your books are wonderful, and award winning, and best selling, and now this. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rhys, big congrats on your sales.

    ReplyDelete
  29. congrats thats really cool i really like your posts good work, keep up the work.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thys, congratulations on your sales!

    ReplyDelete