Googlers: it’s only a matter of time before your workers’ paradise goes the way of Dilbert.

January 13, 2007

My dear Googlers, I hate to break it to you, but when it comes to salary and benefits, you’re probably overpaid. Enjoy your gourmet meals, your on site fitness centers and your flexible schedules while you can. This extravagance will soon be crushed by your shareholders. Every penny that’s spent on free lattes is a penny out of shareholders’ pockets. Soon it will be time to create more shareholder value.

There’s a reason that all offices have cubes. It’s an efficient way to store workers. Companies need workers but they need to do the absolute minimum necessary to retain those workers by way of compensation (sometimes this can be a lot). This is determined by what the market will bear.

It won’t happen overnight, but cubiclization is inevitable. First, they’ll go from gourmet food to lunch-lady-land style cafeteria food that no one wants. Then, after people stop using it, they’ll close it all together and put in cubicles. The same will happen to the workout areas. Google will outgrow the building necessitating the removal of the treadmills. Instead you will, once again, get more cubicles.

In one interview I saw, a Generation Y slacker said: “I come into work at 11 because I like to sleep in.” Frankly, most managers view this behavior as indicative of mental illness. That policy is doomed to go out the door as well. It will probably be replaced by 8:00 to 5:00 (with a half hour for lunch) for hourly employees and 7:30 to 9 for the salaried. You people will have to learn to work, not slack. Just because you may not have much stomach for personal inconvenience for the sake of work, doesn’t mean five people somewhere else in the world won’t do what you do for a tenth of your salary and with a lot more engagement. Economics hasn’t changed.

So will go your “twenty percent” time. It will be engulfed by the demands of the projects you’re working that actually have economic value. You know, working on something that makes money?

I’m not the only one who foresees this, Wired Magazine did a piece on this concept when Google did it’s IPO.

So enjoy your ping pong and pool tables. Enjoy your X-boxes and pets at work. Enjoy your free M&Ms. They are going to go the way of all things. Also, look on the bright side, when you lose the gourmet meals, you’ll lose all the weight you’ve gained. You’ll probably be able to keep your lava lamps. They don’t cost much. New ones will probably have to be bought refurbished however.


7 Responses to “Googlers: it’s only a matter of time before your workers’ paradise goes the way of Dilbert.”

  1. sam oliver Says:

    Wile I see your logic this is one of the most sincal blogs i have read for some time. Its sad how you can be so bitter about something. I suspect you are deeply unhappy in your job and wish to bring every one down to your level.
    I work for a great bloke. He takes the attitude that if you work hard you will be rewarded. We have a piss about sometimes but when there is work to be done, it gets done. few people can say they enjoy going to work. I do, Im sorry that you dont.

  2. thaed Says:

    Love the English accent. Actually, I do like my job. The piece is supposed to be funny, perhaps you didn’t read it that way?

  3. sam oliver Says:

    I’m glad you love your job, its a bad place to be if you don’t. I’m sorry, I must have miss-read the posting because it just didn’t come across as funny to me?


  4. blogMeTender Says:

    Dave Arnott wrote the book _Corporate Cults_ which speaks of companies that have so much appeal on the outside, and brainwash their people inside. These highly touted benefits like free oil changes, dental services and buffets aren’t really to benefit you exclusively, they’re designed to keep you at the company working longer. Arnott says that true work/life balance is done by having enough time for work, family and leisure. When your at-work family wants to pretend to be your at-home family, that puts undue pressure, stress and guilt.

    Many of these firms are led by one or two charismatic or otherwise hypnotizing leaders that pollute all levels throughout. If your peers stay on campus getting their every need met, you’re an outcast if you decide to go home to your family or to dinner with friends (especially a paid dinner if the campus supplies free meals.)

    Arnott profiles several known companies in _Corporate Cults_, e.g., Microsoft. If he writes a 2nd edition, Google would be a great addition.

  5. thaed Says:

    I hadn’t really considered the idea of company perks creating a cultish atmosphere. It certainly is an interesting concept. However, it’s a double edged sword. A company can give its employees so much that it becomes unprofitable.

  6. mikeT Says:

    You don’t live in CA, do you? None of Google’s schtick is terribly unusual in the valley. It’s a concession the companies make for their workers to work their b@lls off, basically. The flexible schedule thing comes from startups originally.

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