Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Internal Microsoft Email about Life at Google 410

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-wish-i-had-a-cafeteria dept.
An anonymous reader wrote in to give us "An interesting perspective on Google, from an internal email sent around Microsoft. Basically an interview that provides analysis about how Google compares to Microsoft from an employee perspective. Included are suggestions for what Microsoft might copy in order to stay competitive in the job market and criticisms of Google's "college kid" atmosphere."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Internal Microsoft Email about Life at Google

Comments Filter:
  • isn't this normal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:30AM (#19662799)
    "These kids don't have a life yet so they spend all of their time at work."

    "People are generally in the building between 10am and about 6pm every day, but nearly everyone is on e-mail 24/7 and most people spend most of their evenings working from home."

    Wow - I dunno about the rest of the world, but for our company that's the norm and we're all in our 30s/40s working for a marketing company :)
    • by Lockejaw (955650) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:38AM (#19662907)
      I just like the combination of "they spend all their time at work" and "generally in the building between 10am and 6pm." Isn't that eight hours per day right there? Then there's the part about how it changes as the employees get older, but he doesn't exactly give a shining example of that supposed change.
      • I think he said the young guys go home and actually work in the evening while the older guys just check e-mail.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arivanov (12034)
        If you read further you will see the obvious typo there. If you want to take advantage of the free breakfast and free dinner benefit you have to be at work from before 8 till after 6:30. That is 11+ hours. So going over the entire article and coming back I suspect he meant from 8 to 6. A.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        What he means is that employees as a whole are in the building 10AM and 6PM. But that means that there are a lot of people who come in at 7AM and leave by 6PM and others who come in by 10AM and leave by 9PM. 10AM and 6PM is when you expect "everyone" to be at work, does not preclude people working 10 to 12 hours a day.
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:48AM (#19663015)
      With the exception of the 'almost always work at home' (doesn't happen a lot) and the hours (they vary according to individual's preference), sounds like here, too.

      I have no problem with keeping an eye on email every time I walk by my computer, and responding or fixing a problem or 2 here and there. It keeps Everyone (including my co-workers) happy, and generally doesn't cost me much. There's only been a few times when I had to put something fairly important (to me) away, and almost never that I had to stop something -very- important. (Usually someone else will step in and do it, instead.)

      One of my co-workers DOES spend a ton of time at home working, and I kick myself for lack of work ethic whenever I realize he's spent time working at home. I then realize that I already over-work anyhow, so no biggie.

      I think a lot of the people that complain about these working conditions have never actually experienced them. I've been in the cube farm of a major OEM and a major telecommunications company, and I've done retails in different stores, and I -far- prefer to work a little harder here and know the people around me are doing the same, for the good of ourselves and the company. It's a completely different feeling and I don't ever think, 'Man, if I have to deal with that lazy bugger again today...' Every other job I've had, I've had to do someone else's work because they were too lazy. I'm not saying that'll never happen here, but it hasn't so far (near 2 years now).

      My point: Don't judge a book by its cover. Just because 1 aspect of the job seems to suck doesn't mean there aren't 2 others that make up for it.
      • by Ogive17 (691899) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:13AM (#19663405)
        Staying plugged in to work 24/7 is putting yourself on the fast track to burnout. Most people where I work (procurement for major engine company) work from home occasionally, but management constantly warns about making it a habit. They are aware that it's unhealthy to devote 9 hours in the office and another 5-6 hours out of the office to work each day. Of course, at certain times they expect long days to get a project done.

        You have to draw a line between work and life, before work takes over your life. If these guys have to stay in tune with what is going on at work all the time, they are setting themselves up for less enjoyment of life.
        • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:50AM (#19663985) Homepage Journal
          If workers are "interchangeable parts," as the article seems to suggest, then from the company's point of view, it's best if your work IS your life. So what if you burn out early, there's a class-load of graduates every year, plus stragglers or over-achievers at mid-year.

          In other words, you have to set your limits, because many employers will be happy to take all they can get from you, without thought to the future.

          Unfortunately, in an employment situation like we have now in the US, there is little-to-no disincentive for employers to put workers on the burnout track, as a matter of course.
          • by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @04:24PM (#19667891) Homepage Journal

            If workers are "interchangeable parts," as the article seems to suggest, then from the company's point of view, it's best if your work IS your life. So what if you burn out early, there's a class-load of graduates every year, plus stragglers or over-achievers at mid-year.

            In other words, you have to set your limits, because many employers will be happy to take all they can get from you, without thought to the future.

            Unfortunately, in an employment situation like we have now in the US, there is little-to-no disincentive for employers to put workers on the burnout track, as a matter of course.

            There seem to be plenty of places to go after google, or any other "burnout track" job. Although you are kinda like an abused foster kid at that point. It takes you a while to learn to behave in "normal" manner, at least that was my experience. Granted I didn't work at MS or Google, but a place that qualified as "not normal" in many regards. I think in the long run it was a beneficial experience, as it has made me better at what I do. I'll never be a manager, but I am happier that way.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Staying plugged in to work 24/7 is putting yourself on the fast track to burnout....You have to draw a line between work and life, before work takes over your life. If these guys have to stay in tune with what is going on at work all the time, they are setting themselves up for less enjoyment of life."

          Glad to see your post!! I was getting really amazed, and actually a bit scared by how many people are responding as if working over 8-9 hours a day, working on your own time at home, etc was the NORM!!!

          I d

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by utopianfiat (774016)
      Sounds normal to me? Except the whole "not having a life" part...
      A lot of Google sounds similar to the structure of the place where I work. There's a bit of an unhealthy spin that makes it sound like it ends up being worse- for example, valuing "degrees" over "experience"- Well, for one, I've been in class with a graduate student who was refused an internship from Google, and this guy was actually extremely intelligent; their reasoning was that he ought to start at a lower-tier job first (he wanted to be a
    • by drasfr (219085) <`revedemoi' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:50AM (#19663051)
      10am to 6pm? Damn, that IS relaxed for an IT job.... 24/7 checking email with blackberry doesn't really mean working... maybe the feeling of working? we all have a couple of minutes in our evenings sometimes to answer an email here and there...

      I know so many people in IT that work more, 8 or 9am to 7pm, or more, and often work from home too...

      I was approached by Google, got interviewed, and at the end declined because I wasn't technical enough to be the Director of Engineering (or something like that as a tittle). Which is utter bs. There was not a single question about management. It was 100% technical, which is fine, I am very technical and have always been, and in all my reviews at all my jobs was/am always told one of the most technically savy person. Their style of questions was grilling you more and more and going deeper and deeper into the questions and technicalities until you failed. Started as what is TCP and UDP to going down and down and down the stack, syncookies, handshakes, how it works, to how sequence numbers are generated and more to more obscure points... At one point I couldn't answer anymore.

      I used to know but not anymore. I told them, and I told them a 2 minute search on google itself will turn up the results so there is no need to know that by heart. In all my previous jobs, and that is my way of thinking, initial knowledge is not what gets the job done. Ability to do research and learn quickly IS the most important thing.

      In my opinion people there at google tend to be pretentious and full of themselves. But that is my personal opinion and I am glad I don't work there in fact, sure there are some nice benefits and all, but it isn't everything. I got a few job offers and work for one of the best company around, and in my mind a much better company than Google...
      • by Splab (574204) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:07AM (#19663311)
        Holy crap!

        I thought the US had abolished slavery. Why on earth does anyone put up with that??? Is the job market really that bad?

        I can accept a few days of overtime pending product launch, but if a company expected me to me available like that I would tell them to go f*** themselves.
      • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:09AM (#19663343) Homepage
        24/7 checking email with blackberry doesn't really mean working... maybe the feeling of working? we all have a couple of minutes in our evenings sometimes to answer an email here and there...

        I hate this. When did people become so obsessed with work? I've posted my feelings about doing work on "personal time" before and I'm going to restate it here: When you leave the office, you're done. Regardless of how the company decides to pay you and regardless of your own warped feelings about how you should operate, you should NOT work once you leave.

        Leave work at work even if you LOVE your job. You should LOVE your personal time a ton more.

        In my opinion people there at google tend to be pretentious and full of themselves.

        I feel the same way about people that feel that they are so important that they must work from home... It's as if the world will stop turning if they take vacation or have personal time. I work with a woman like that and being that she spends most of her day taking personal phone calls and playing Hearts, I have a real problem with her telling everyone how important her job is to the institution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drasfr (219085)
          I am not in favor of necessary working from home. I advocate a work/life balance in fact... But if you are a little bit ambitious about your job and want to go the extra mile, sometime spending a few minutes here and there will make the big difference against people that do not do it. I rarely check my blackberry from home, but sometimes there are moments I do look at it and answer some things if I can and they don't take up much time. Assuming I have time, I would look at my blackberry once or twice in the
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rantingkitten (938138)
            But if you are a little bit ambitious about your job and want to go the extra mile, sometime spending a few minutes here and there will make the big difference against people that do not do it.

            Yeah, and that's the problem. It degrades from there. One guy starts doing just a little extra to get noticed around the office. And indeed, others notice, like his coworkers, some of whom start doing a bit more too, so they don't look like slackers, or to show the guy up, or because they want to be the one gettin
        • So we all have to conduct our lives the way you want us to? Whatever happened to "different strokes for different folks?"

          If someone likes working all the time, why not respect that and move on with your life?
          • by Techguy666 (759128) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:21PM (#19664409)

            If someone likes working all the time, why not respect that and move on with your life?


            As long as it doesn't intrude on my life, I'm all for that. However, if you work 24/7 and our mutual boss wants to know why I'm not accomplishing 20 tasks a day, that gets annoying and your work habit is affecting me. If our mutual boss decides to make you the "norm" and expects everyone to follow suit, then you've created an environment for burnout and your work habit is affecting me. If you get in the habit of working 24/7 and you catch a cold and come in to work anyway, and I catch your cold, your work habit is affecting me. You infect me with a cold and I'm staying home, dammit. You infect other, saner, people and they'll stay home too.

            Allowing someone to behave detrimentally in a work environment sets a dangerous precedent because nobody works in a bubble; it changes the work culture to one that benefits the organization unequally over the individual, it creates health risks, and combined, potentially skews a society's economy. That's why I care if *you* work yourself to the bone. You're not only my colleague but you're a barometer of the world around me.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thetable123 (936470)

        I was approached by Google, got interviewed
        I guess they didn't make you sign the NDA [slashdot.org].
      • by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @03:24PM (#19666985) Journal

        Their style of questions was grilling you more and more and going deeper and deeper into the questions and technicalities until you failed. Started as what is TCP and UDP to going down and down and down the stack, syncookies, handshakes, how it works, to how sequence numbers are generated and more to more obscure points... At one point I couldn't answer anymore.
        That was exactly how my third and fourth Google interviews went. I did extremely well because I tend to be the type of person that remembers those obscure details about TCP/IP packets that nobody needs to know in the "real world." But I couldn't help feeling that the entire interview was just about a pissing contest between 2 techies to see who knew more. Google has a lot of brilliant people working there, but it did seem extremely elitist and not a very good way to determine how smart a potential candidate is. If they push you long and far enough they will get to a point where you don't know any more.

        The thing that really, really bothered me about the interview process was that if they are hiring for a "senior level" position (in my case they were), basing their hiring decision on whether you know which bit is flipped on or off in a TCP header is more likely to favor the recent college graduate who happened to memorize his textbook and has no real world experience, than the experienced career veteran that has probably forgotten more than the college grad ever knew. That's most likely why the workforce is "just like college" and "work experience doesn't matter." Like I said, Google has a lot of bright people, but they lack a lot of real world experience. Maybe that's a good thing (look at problems from a new perspective), but there's something to be said for experience.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I guess you must be American.

      Over here on the sane side of the Atlantic I work 9-5 and spend my evenings and weekends with my family and friends doing anything except working. Do you get paid extra for all those extra hours?
    • by ghoul (157158) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:37AM (#19663793)
      Now they are not supposed to have a life. Techies didnt have a life in college. They need to get their kicks in sometime. Retirement is a nono as with all the soda few will live to see retirement
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:34AM (#19662863) Journal
    The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft is that Google turns research ideas into products. Microsoft spends something like five billion dollars on research a year, and pretty much any conference has a few interesting papers by Microsoft Research, but five years later you still won't see any products based on them. Google have a good track record of turning employees '20% time' into products. I think the difference here is that Microsoft have a research arm, and a products arm, and are not good at passing ideas between the two, while Google have people doing product work 80% of the time and research 20% of the time, so there is no disconnect.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      five years later you still won't see any products based on them.

      You will see patents making sure no-one else can implement products based on similar ideas and perhaps threaten microsoft's monopoly - the WHOLE POINT of microsoft "research" is to deny market entry to anyone else.
      Now, you say "oh, but patents 'only' last 20 years". Well, I've got news for you: US diplomats have been pushing for 40 year patent terms abroad (asia, mainly). Once a country goes for that, then the USA will have a policy-laundered excuse to "harmonize" up to 40 years. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Th

    • I think another big issue is that Google is probably still at that stage where projects are new enough and the organization is new enough where you're actually permitted to accomplish significant things without a mountain of bureaucracy, a long series of pointless meetings, and approval from several large committees. You get the impression that, unlike other software companies, Google hires good people and lets them work instead of keeping them perpetually frustrated.

      Eventually, Google's employees will
    • Google is about making a better, quicker, more effective product or filling a need that wasn't filled before. Microsoft's policy has typically been "How do we control the market?" "How do we make this product necessary to the industry?" etc... Not building a better/quicker product but making a product in demand. Kind of like requiring vista to run certain games(while my railroad tycoon 3 causes vista to coredump on my laptop, I'm not touching it on my desktop, which means no shadowrun... damnit).

      You can argue it any way you like, Microsoft is a little more agressive in the industry and Google believes if you build a great product people will come(and with their name they believe everything they do is a great product whether it is or isn't because they get people just because of their name). Microsoft has given up on better/quicker and gone for "How to make this necessary?"
    • The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft is that Google turns research ideas into products.

      You may not like the few Microsoft products that you actually know about, but the idea that Google produce more products that hit the marketplace is simply fundamentally not true. Furthermore, while Microsoft's products may lack the "innovation" you're after, at least they have some that actually attempt to do useful things. Google, on the other hand, is focused on ways to monetize the Web through adverti

    • I guess that's the downside that Microsoft sees in Googles "college kid" atmosphere. Why innovate when you can embrace, extend, extinguish.
    • by crivens (112213)
      Google creates cool stuff
      Microsoft tries to, fails, buys it and ruins it :)
    • I'd go a step further than that. I'd guess a lot of good ideas at Microsoft are thrown by the wayside not because communication is bad, but because the ideas are "dangerous." The company's massive revenue comes mostly from Office and Windows; many things that are new, shiny and have the potential to change the world, also have the potential to change the OS and productivity markets. The Web's history at Microsoft is the core example of this way of thinking - if Microsoft can control something and prevent

  • by CallFinalClass (801589) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:35AM (#19662875)
    "Microsoft is an amazingly transparent company. Google is not. "

    Ya, right.
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:38AM (#19662903) Homepage Journal
      And the name of this new blog: Just Say "No" To Google

      Biased?
    • by megaditto (982598)
      For what it's worth, Microsoft actually has a privacy policy that respects users' privacy.
    • Oh, they're transparent all right. Whenever they make an announcement, it's usually completely obvious that their motives are other than stated.
    • What amazing spin:

      Microsoft is an amazingly transparent company.

      People know about M$ because M$ has misbehaved not because M$ wants people to know things. M$ leaks like a sieve because their employees hate their company. This is how the rest of the world gets Halloween Documents [catb.org], and other fun outside of lawsuits. Lawsuits are the result of everyone else's outrage and reveal even more. Calling that kind of hate and animosity "transparency" is a brazen lie. Actual disclosure will get you fired [slashdot.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by suv4x4 (956391)
        People know about M$ because M$ has misbehaved not because M$ wants people to know things. M$ leaks like a sieve because their employees hate their company.

        That's it. You're a dead man, honestly, watch your back.

        I'm taking like a man all the discussions about "evil" and all the posts talking about "you're forgetting, they're convicted monopolists!!!" people repeat like damn parrots on these forums with the cool and non-chalante expression of a Marlboro man going for his 156-th smoke this afternoon.

        But I'm n
  • by fenodyree (802102) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:44AM (#19662957)
    I heard, that over at google, they have vat grown clones of Natalie Portman for use by all employee's. How is Microsoft ever going to counter that?

    My guess is with an army of brain dead Steve Balmers...
    • by Serapth (643581) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @01:13PM (#19665145)
      You know, I have never once considered working at google. The free gourmet lunch thing... yeah, thats great. All of the perks and status attached, thats great too. Yet, at the end of the day, im really more interested in family time then I am work time. I work to live, not the other way around.

      That said, give me a Natalie Portman clone and im in! Who needs family time when you have Natalie Portman?!?!
  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:45AM (#19662973)
    ... that google abhors private offices and loves open-space plans, was the moment any temptation to go work for them evaporated for me. Now if only there was a company like MS (work-environment wise) that worked in the unix-linux-lamp-python-etc space...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by raxtor (1120853)
      Novell? *ducks*
    • ... google abhors private offices and loves open-space plans, was the moment any temptation to go work for them evaporated for me.

      Do you really think you will find privacy in Mr. Gates' empire? You could work in a vault, but every file on your computer, every email, phone call, and web site you visit will be monitored. You might even get fired for making a blog post at home [slashdot.org] that Mr. Gates did not like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Macthorpe (960048)
        I don't think you get paid for hits on your comments, so if next time you could link directly to the story in question rather than linking to your comment that comments on the story in question, that would save me time that I could be spending here, destroying your credibility.

        It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

        Do you really think you will find privacy in Mr. Gates' empire? You could work in a vault, but every file on your computer, every email, phone call, and web site you visit will be monitored.

        Why do you have to make me sound like a broken record? *exasperated sigh* Proof, please?

        You might even get fired for making a blog post at home that Mr. Gates did not like.

        As usual you're misrepresenting that situation. Work at any big company. They will fire you for taking photo

  • by transmetal (904896) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:46AM (#19662991)
    Can someone explain to this naive college student why that post is getting responses like

    Dude you shouldn't have published this, why do you even work for microsoft. you should quit right away.
    and

    I cannot believe you posted this. What is wrong with you? Makes me shudder to think what else your pathetic and bereft character would allow yourself to post. No house is perfect, we're all a little dysfunctional. Assuming you have a significant other or children, how would you feel if one of them decided to post something that highlighted your imperfections..? Wait, they wouldn't have to, your lack of integrity has been sufficiently demonstrated here.
    The entire post sounded reasonable, and was an interesting peek into the sort of corporate environments I may / may not be hired into in the next few years.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      As someone else who commented there said, it's hard to tell if the comments came from MS or Google fans/employees, because the article was so neutral anyway. I mean, he showed some pros and cons with both companies, and get that as response? Is it MS people thinking he was disrespectful of the internal status of the memo, or is it Googlers who think he's throwing dirt on Google?

      The "pathetic character" seem to come from a huge Google fan to me anyway, and the first "shouldn't have published this" seem to co
  • by lbmouse (473316) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:48AM (#19663025) Homepage
    Would the last person to leave Redmond for Mountain View please remember to turn off the lights.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:57AM (#19663143)
    Somehow, the author interprets the great perks like free T-shirts, meals, health care, and facilities as Google playing your parent and running your life. That's a hell of a spin job on what I'd consider a dream environment.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @01:20PM (#19665269)
      Do you, by any chance, fit the "college kid" demographic referred to in the article?

      I am a family man. The idea of eating 3 meals per day at work doesn't fit at all. Dentistry at work? Interesting, but I'd prefer a traditional plan, because I personally am only 1/6 (less, actually) of the dental needs that I am responsible for. Am I making sense? It seems like the benefits are all based on the employee/company relationship, but most of those needs are already met by my other relationships, and maintaining those is a higher priority for me. Instead of a gourmet meal for myself at work, I'd rather have the cash towards some hamburgers I can eat at home with my family.

  • I'm amazed to see discussions, not just here but elsewhere, based on blog posts which supposedly give "an insider's look" or "confessions from a former...." and are taken as the gospel truth.

    Admittedly, I am cynical, but isn't it common sense to take these things as false until proven true?

    Personally, I give this kind of thing as much credence as forwarded-forwarded-forwarded email.
  • #1 Tip (Score:4, Funny)

    by niceone (992278) * on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:06AM (#19663283) Journal
    #1 Tip for MS employees: tell people you work at Google.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:06AM (#19663293) Journal
    I've tried to write code in a cubicle, and it sucks, big time. I can share an office, but two-up in a 10x20 is about my limit.

    So, if I find myself competing with Google for a candidate, I can see the main lever to apply. Besides matching their salaries, I've got to provide a private office, and make sure that the work is as interesting as whatever they'd be doing at Google.

    -jcr

    • I'm just finishing my PhD, and starting to look for a job[1], and I don't think this would be an incentive for me. I have a fairly decent set of headphones, so when I don't want to be disturbed I can tune out the environment completely, and I do this while I'm writing code. When I'm thinking, being able to easily interact with people is nice. I spent some of the time during my PhD in an office and some in a lab, and I felt very isolated in the office.

      One thing I would advocate is getting decent (read:

    • I agree completely! I share an office (that has a huge window) now with another developer and am pretty happy with the arrangement. I've worked in cubicles (way too loud) and in offices w/o windows (depressing as hell) and know that I need a privatish office with a window to really be productive.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:06AM (#19663295) Homepage Journal
    I blogged about my own experience at Googleplex [demodulated.com] in Mountain View. I concur that Google is very hush hush in general. My most surprising observation was that the security guards were rather laid-back while some engineers were very solemn and confrontational. This is not indicative of the overall feel of the place though - it's like a cruise ship party where people do work.
  • Wow. I'm self employed so I pay for all my lunches anyways, but I wouldn't work somewhere where they make you pay for food in the cafeteria unless they give you 1 1/2 hrs for lunch. Sounds like my corporate brothers are having a shitty time right now. :(

    I'd say even with the less pay Google offers a better working environment, although career wise it sounds like Microsoft is the way to go(coming from a Microsoft memo, that's the way you would expect it to sound too).

    I guess it's hard to demand stuff from th
    • by all accounts, google does not give 'crappy food'. they hire real chefs and cook REAL food.

      this isn't the 'cafeteria' you might be thinking of...

      • by geekoid (135745)
        He was talking about microsoft. The clue being that google doesn't charge anything for there 3 free meals a day.

  • by Uksi (68751) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:23AM (#19663563) Homepage
    The memo is wrong about private office space. Microsofties are used to it because they all have private offices (with doors and all), which is far better than cubes, but his dismissal of shared working spaces comes with no backup arguments (other than a link to a JoelOnSoftware article that talks about them expanding space--how is that a backup argument?)

    I used to work in a team room environment, where all the developers sat together in one room (there were 10-15 of us or so), working on the same product. I loved working in that environment. You could talk to anyone just like that right away. Not having to walk for a minute or half a minute makes quite a difference, believe it or not. Since the barrier for asking someone for help or ideas is so low (lean over and speak), it's much easier to quickly bounce off ideas without having to interrupt your own flow. Also, you overhear others' problems and ideas, and pitch in with your own. Countless times I've heard someone lamenting some problem and was able to chip in with "oh I just solved the same issue."

    Yes, you must have headphones in the team room, because sometimes you just need to concentrate and headphones are essential to drown out the noise.

    Unfortunately, I am back to working in a cube and I miss the team room days.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:27AM (#19663635) Homepage
    ...that there are so many replies along the lines of

    "Dude you shouldn't have published this, why do you even work for microsoft."
        and
    "You should quit right away"
        and
    "this is horrible, man you ARE the reason microsoft is suffering!"
        and
    "What is wrong with you? Why would you publish this? This is internal only"
        and
    "I cannot believe you posted this. What is wrong with you? Makes me shudder to think what else your pathetic and bereft character would allow yourself to post"
        and
    "Idiot, idiot, you should quit. You should be ashamed. Hopefully HR will figure out who the hell you are and can your ***."

    When I read the posting, my thought was that both Microsoft and Google sounded like interesting places to work, with different profiles of plusses and minuses.

    When I read the responses, my thought was that Microsoft must be as full of paranoid conformists as the second circle of Hell. If these responses are typical of the environment, goodness knows what Microsoft does to people who post Dilbert cartoons on their office walls.
  • Evil Empire (Score:4, Insightful)

    by llZENll (545605) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:28AM (#19663639)
    Just wait another 5 years and Google will be the new evil empire, they are almost already there with all of the privacy concerns.
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:32AM (#19663703)
    I spent time working up my resume to get noticed at Google or Microsoft to get a job. I really wanted to work in a field that was 'techie' and that I was working for a company I believed in.

    Then I got a job at a video game company. It was a smaller firm, but a lot of fun to work at. People were all young (I'm only 26), they had free food and lots of perks. You could go to work in shorts and a tshirt.

    But then I started to see the down sides of it all. I worked long hours, and often worked from home. My health insurance wasn't anything special. Being on email till the wee hours of the night was an annoyance.

    And then I found another job, and left.

    Now I work for a place I have no real feeling of accomplishment, nor is it a place I yearned to work for. But I get in at 10am, I am out the door at the latest by 6pm. I don't work from home. I don't get on email after I leave work. Emergencies come up and then I take care of them, but I am able to separate my work life from my personal life with great distinction. My co-workers are in their 30s and 40s and 50s, all of them have families and leave on time to make sure that they are home to pick up their kids, play with them, and be at their soccer games. They encourage me to leave work and go out on a date, watch a movie, read a book, and do something constructive. They know that working isn't the point of life, but merely a part of it.

    And now at the age of 26, I finally have a job that I yearned for, but didn't know I wanted.

    Do yourselves a favor -- find a job that will let you live your life reasonably. You will be better at your job because you appreciate it, not because you are dying for it.
    • Now I work for a place I have no real feeling of accomplishment, nor is it a place I yearned to work for.

      And now at the age of 26, I finally have a job that I yearned for, but didn't know I wanted.

      Huh?

      In any case, your post sounded kinda depressing to me... :-/
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @04:57PM (#19668303) Homepage
      I agree with what you're saying for the most part, but I, too, have worked in both types of environments. You've captured the downsides of the start-up type company pretty accurately. The downside of the other type of environment is a tendency toward under-achieving.

      You see it more in larger companies, and especially as companies get closer and closer to government ... i.e. big HMOs, university staffs ... any job where it's really difficult to get fired or laid off once you're in. These jobs attract people who have families, outside lives, want the healthcare and the work/life balance, precisely because they offer so much security.

      The problem is, once you have a preponderance of people with that mindset on staff, it becomes difficult to act like the smaller company. When your whole staff is seeking security in their employment, it makes sense that the organization naturally becomes more and more risk-averse. You stop taking chances. There's nobody to rock the boat.

      When that really starts to suck is when upper management starts looking at the numbers and they say, "Hey, it's a different market, your department isn't pulling its weight anymore. We need change." In a company full of ambitious over-achievers who have learned to be just a little bit afraid for their jobs, this situation is an opportunity. It's time for new ideas to surface, for the underdog to make his bid for success. New projects get launched. People move offices, start reporting to different bosses. You try stuff.

      In a staid, safe, secure work environment, however, this is how it happens: Upper management says "we need change," and the head of your department says, "Yes sir, will do, sir" ... and the buck stops there. Your manager diddles the numbers a bit. Everybody's told they need to "work a little harder." And that's it.

      And maybe you were at the same meeting that the head of your department was, and maybe you heard that upper management guy saying "we need change," and now you're just sitting there. Twiddling your thumbs. Waiting for the axe to fall. And you go to your boss and you say, "Shouldn't we really be doing this or that?" But he's thinking about his kid's braces and his car payment and his wife's last biopsy, and he doesn't want to rock the boat. So he sends you back to your desk. To wait.

      Bitter much? Nah, not me.

  • Tech stops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:33AM (#19663713) Homepage Journal
    This idea is just too awesome to leave it gathering dust in TFA.

    Google has the concept of "Tech Stops." Each floor of each building has one. They handle all of the IT stuff for employees in the building including troubleshooting networks, machines, etc. If you're having a problem you just walk into a Tech Stop and someone will fix it. They also have a variety of keyboards, mice, cables, etc. They're the ones who order equipment, etc. In many ways the Tech Stop does some of what our admins do. If your laptop breaks you bring it to a Tech Stop and they fix it or give you another one (they move your data for you). If one of your test machines is old and crusty you bring it to the Tech Stop and they give you a new one. They track everything by swiping your ID when you "check out" an item. If you need more equipment than your job description allows, your manager just needs to approve the action.

    The Tech Stop idea is genius because:

    1. You establish a relationship with your IT guy so technical problems stop being a big deal - you don't waste a couple of hours trying to fix something before calling IT to find out it wasn't your fault. You just drop in and say, "My network is down."

    2. Most IT problems are trivial when you're in a room together ("oh that Ethernet cable is in the wrong port")

    3. The model of repair or replace within an hour is incredible for productivity.

    4. It encourages a more flexible model for employees to define their OWN equipment needs. E.g. a "Developer" gets a workstation, a second workstation or a laptop, and a test machine. You're free to visit the Tech Stop to swap any of the machines for any of the others in those categories. For example, I could stop by and swap my second workstation for a laptop because I'm working remotely a lot more now. In the Tech Stop system, this takes 5 minutes to walk down and tell the Tech Stop guy. If a machine is available, I get it right away. Otherwise they order it and drop it off when it arrives. In our current set up, I have to go convince my manager that I need a laptop, he needs to budget for it because it's an additional machine, an admin has to order it, and in the end developers always end up with a growing collection of mostly useless "old" machines instead of a steady state of about 3 mostly up-to-date machines.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EvilNight (11001)
      That's very close to the way IT works at my current company. Most of the company is on one building (with the other remote site literally two blocks down the street). I try to maintain working computers and a good cache of spare parts so that I can fix any problems with hardware in minutes. Our office is sitting in the middle of the building, and the door's always open. People pop in from time to time all day long (and it's not as distracting as you might think). I have spare machines and can do a data move
  • I strictly work 7.75 hours per day mon-fri; no blackberry, no work at home, no email checking at home. Heck no work contact at home at all. This is EXACTLY how I want it - my family is much more important to me.
  • The criticisms of Google's "college kid" atmosphere remind me of the apple "flashback" ad [apple.com] from the "get a mac" campaign where PC is always calculating how much time Mac is wasting doing "fun" things like creating something in iPhoto. iLife really does imitate art I suppose.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:50AM (#19663995) Homepage Journal
    I work for the last tech generation's great and most favorite company. A big three letter place. It's a tomb. It's a company that sees its future as merely saving and cost cutting its way to prosperity as it develops nothing and creates nothing. And the only new things to come out of it anymore is via acquisition.

    MS is probably just like that. A husk on cruise control that's driven by costs, bureaucracy and slack. A place where nothing new happens because the executives are paranoid rich blockheads.

    Some MS insider should check to see what the average tenure with the company is now. I'm sure its dropping. If it's a really low number like mine is then that's a red flag for a company that just wants to operate on the lowest cost basis, probably out of the country and where innovation and quality are already dead.
  • Notice that the M$ guy never mentioned "do no evil" as a factor.

    The fact that this was a non-factor in the discussion perhaps indicates that this MS->Google->MS employee really is working where he belongs.

    (Yes, I know that Google hasn't perfectly observed its "do no evil" rule, but it still seems a heck of a lot better than M$ in this regard.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Maybe he didn't mention "Do no evil" because when he got to Google he saw that it's an empty slogan used for bullshit PR.
      Make your slogan, "Do no evil", and not only to you proclaim your own self-righteousness, but you imply that all of your competitors ARE evil. Wow, soo clever. Must've taken 50 of Google's 1000 PhDs to come up with that one.

      Show me someone that constantly says, "I'm not a racist", and I'll show you a racist.
      Show me someone that constantly says, "I'm not evil", ...
  • by grouchyman (725847) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:08PM (#19664213)
    The comments on that blog are quite funny actually:

    What is wrong with you? Why would you publish this? This is internal only. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.

    this is horrible, man you ARE the reason microsoft is suffering!

    WHen I refreshed this page, it shows your e-mail and all. You better be careful too
    And the best one:

    Idiot, idiot, you should quit. You should be ashamed. Hopefully HR will figure out who the hell you are and can your ***.
    I wouldn't want to work at a company if these were my coworkers.
  • Valley culture (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:08PM (#19664219) Homepage

    What makes the open plan office thing tolerable at Google is a very large number of modest-sized, well-equipped conference rooms.

    Google does go overboard on on-site services designed to keep people at work. I'm surprised they didn't go all the way and build dorms. Some large Japanese companies do that. But the real feel of Google is "overfunded dot-com". Yes, they're profitable. But the profitable part, search, was built some time ago. Most of the technical people in Mountain View are working on Google's money-losing sidelines, like desktop apps. Those are the labor-intensive parts of the business.

    Remember that Google is really an ad agency. That's how the money is made. Much of their newer hiring is sales reps for ads. The days when the ad sales just ran on autopilot are over; now Google has to push their ad products. In time, the ad agency people may take over. That will be an interesting culture change.

    Google's campus used to be SGI's campus. Most Google buildings are former SGI buildings. So if you've been in the Valley for a while, there's always that reminder that a company can go from #1 to zero in just a few years.

    Compare Intel in Santa Clara. Intel looks like Dilbertland. Intel is where cubicle culture began. Intel has built buildings from the ground up with single rooms covering about two acres, full of tiny cubicles. The cubicles are so small that only one chair will physically fit in them; they look like library study carrels. These aren't for call center employees; these are the people who design Intel CPUs.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @02:00PM (#19665845)
    Here's an idea for us older types with families...I think IT companies would have fewer retention problems if they balanced this "take care of everything" approach with some reasonable limits.

    Here's an example: Most parents would love the idea of on-site daycare for their kids. It's the 2000s, and many women actually want to keep working after they have kids. Making the whole childcare thing easier would definitely keep good, more experienced workers in place and productive.

    The problems come when this extra stuff is provided with the understanding that you will work tons of extra hours for it. The college campus atmosphere works for younger workers, but most older ones with families want a balance.

    In your 20s, especially in the IT world, you don't have a whole lot of outside commitments. You can go to work, then go home to an empty apartment. This doesn't fly once you get married and you're expected to put time in outside of the office. This is another reason why Big 5 consulting is so attractive to the young. A job where you get to travel, drink in strange places, and make a lot of money is a really easy sell for a new grad.

    I think companies (especially software/hardware/services houses) would be really surprised how much a few extra "grown up" perks add to productivity. If I have to make one less trip a day because something's provided, that's more time I can be contributing. One of these things would be an enclosed work space...cube life is annoying especially when you have loud neighbors.
  • by flibuste (523578) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @04:11PM (#19667675)
    So, Microsoft is trying every single (quite pathetic I have to say) thing to avoid employee leaking to competitors or better places, including having developers in their own private office?
    With team members probably not communicating with anything else than e-mail, no wonder why they can't make a single product without crashing all the others.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

Working...