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(NPR)   As you get ready to go back to the office, keep in mind that even the architect of the Googleplex thinks workers have it too good these days   (npr.org) divider line
    More: Interesting, Google, Employment, Sergey Brin, Clive Wilkinson, famous work, Mountain View, California, office designers, Google's campus  
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1257 clicks; posted to Business » on 24 Jan 2022 at 11:20 AM (16 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



36 Comments     (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2022-01-24 10:17:26 AM  
He has a point about making the workplace so inclusive(used in the "all inclusive trip" meaning) that workers will skew the work life balance toward work
 
2022-01-24 10:36:36 AM  
There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago
 
2022-01-24 10:43:55 AM  
I thought those were Silicon Graphics' old offices?
 
2022-01-24 10:51:11 AM  
I like my office just fine, but "posh" was never part of the equation.
 
2022-01-24 11:16:29 AM  

NateAsbestos: There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago


My neighbor (GSA) hasn't gone back yet. My IT gov contract buddy in Alabama, was in, then out (rinse repeat) and is currently in a day or two a week. It keeps changing in some places.
 
2022-01-24 11:22:26 AM  

NateAsbestos: There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago


There are people who are back in the office other than "essential workers"?
 
2022-01-24 11:28:39 AM  

NateAsbestos: There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago


I'm not, I'm not sure I ever will be
 
2022-01-24 11:32:13 AM  

NateAsbestos: There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago


There are people who got to stay home?
 
2022-01-24 11:42:32 AM  
Man who disguised slave quarters as a playground laments the days when offices looked like offices.
 
2022-01-24 11:44:59 AM  
Is he the guy who decided on the particular shades of yellow and green they use on the walls to keep people calm but not too calm that they fall asleep? If so, I hope someone kicks him in the nuts.
 
2022-01-24 11:50:59 AM  

NateAsbestos: There are people who aren't back in the office yet?

Our lords cracked the whip a long time ago


Been out since March 2020. I'm on the essential worker list so I can go into my lab if I want to get out of my house and move some gear around, break things up in my day. Literally all I do in my office is remote into my lab to set up tests, so it's not like I can't do all of that from what used to be my music room.
 
2022-01-24 12:11:45 PM  
"He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

Yeah, there's a reason that back in the day Bloomberg (I think it was Bloomberg) opened a free in-house convenience store and coffee bar for employees. From someone's viewpoint, it cost Bloomberg $50 for the thirty minutes it would take for an employee to go down the street to buy a $5 latte or Red Bull.

But while that may be clever from the viewpoint of one spreadsheet column, it might not be the best thing in the long term. If you have to add something like onsite health/wellness/whatever time and staff because people are getting burned out, now you're paying two people for that non-productive time.
 
2022-01-24 12:27:17 PM  
At a certain point economically, the risk isn't that your highly-paid employees are going to go to a competitor.  It's that they get burned out, start reading FIRE forums, save up $2 million, and move to a goat farm in New Hampshire.
 
2022-01-24 12:28:02 PM  

baka-san: He has a point about making the workplace so inclusive(used in the "all inclusive trip" meaning) that workers will skew the work life balance toward work


Wasn't that one of the major criticisms of playground-offices in the first place?

The hippie socialists' fears were once again vindicated, and I'm absolutely unsurprised that no one gives their foresight any credit.
 
2022-01-24 12:31:31 PM  
We are never going back.   It was funny up until March 2020, letting IT folks WFH was this seeming impossible task.   I still dont understand the 5 levels of Management I have, and what they do, but at least I dont have to drive 45 minutes each way anymore.
 
2022-01-24 12:31:59 PM  
Totally unsurprising. It's a company town write white-collar.


Un-American and yet, totally American | Company Towns
Youtube 1rzFyBdKLvU
 
2022-01-24 12:35:13 PM  

BretMavrik: "He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

Yeah, there's a reason that back in the day Bloomberg (I think it was Bloomberg) opened a free in-house convenience store and coffee bar for employees. From someone's viewpoint, it cost Bloomberg $50 for the thirty minutes it would take for an employee to go down the street to buy a $5 latte or Red Bull.

But while that may be clever from the viewpoint of one spreadsheet column, it might not be the best thing in the long term. If you have to add something like onsite health/wellness/whatever time and staff because people are getting burned out, now you're paying two people for that non-productive time.


I worked a job that had free onsite meals, soda fountains in every breakroom (for free), no dress code, and "creative rooms", ie pool tables, ping pong, video arcade machines.   It was a soul sucking hell hole.  Disconnected management would give unrealistic time lines so you worked 60-80 hrs a week.  If you complained "hey you get free lunch", which was only there to keep you from going offsite.  So your hour lunch was maybe 20 minutes.
 
2022-01-24 12:42:40 PM  
So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.
 
2022-01-24 12:51:18 PM  
"He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

I dunno, maybe. But if you're young and single, like, right out of college, I think you could take advantage of this too. You could basically live there. You have every amenity you could possibly want and never have to pay for a meal, or maybe a place to live, or transportation.

If you're making six figures and have basically no expenses, you can stash away a lot of money. Put in 5 years, stash away half a mil or so then say "See Ya!" bail to somewhere else with a lower cost of living. Google would look pretty good on your resume. I would imagine getting another job wouldn't be that difficult.

You'd still be young, have a nice little nest egg built up and go from there.
 
2022-01-24 1:05:19 PM  

tobcc: BretMavrik: "He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

Yeah, there's a reason that back in the day Bloomberg (I think it was Bloomberg) opened a free in-house convenience store and coffee bar for employees. From someone's viewpoint, it cost Bloomberg $50 for the thirty minutes it would take for an employee to go down the street to buy a $5 latte or Red Bull.

But while that may be clever from the viewpoint of one spreadsheet column, it might not be the best thing in the long term. If you have to add something like onsite health/wellness/whatever time and staff because people are getting burned out, now you're paying two people for that non-productive time.

I worked a job that had free onsite meals, soda fountains in every breakroom (for free), no dress code, and "creative rooms", ie pool tables, ping pong, video arcade machines.   It was a soul sucking hell hole.  Disconnected management would give unrealistic time lines so you worked 60-80 hrs a week.  If you complained "hey you get free lunch", which was only there to keep you from going offsite.  So your hour lunch was maybe 20 minutes.


My sister worked for a company that was bought by Google. When they brought in the amenities, people thought they had it made. People would spend half their day playing Call of Duty, grab five Red Bulls and bags of chips on their way out the door, bring in Tupperware dishes to stock up on the catered lunches so they'd also now have a free dinner, etc. I remember her saying something like, "you can bring Google to Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of Texans".

Anyway, it all came crashing down once Google pulled the trigger on what a lot of people suspected... they bought the company simply for their IP. After a year or so they offered generous severance packages to the deadweight while keeping the critical staff, and then sold them and the empty shell to a company that folded soon after. The people who added the most value to the original company were the ones left with nothing. My sister would have been better off being a slacker who was offered a severance in the first round.
 
2022-01-24 1:24:59 PM  

tobcc: BretMavrik: "He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

Yeah, there's a reason that back in the day Bloomberg (I think it was Bloomberg) opened a free in-house convenience store and coffee bar for employees. From someone's viewpoint, it cost Bloomberg $50 for the thirty minutes it would take for an employee to go down the street to buy a $5 latte or Red Bull.

But while that may be clever from the viewpoint of one spreadsheet column, it might not be the best thing in the long term. If you have to add something like onsite health/wellness/whatever time and staff because people are getting burned out, now you're paying two people for that non-productive time.

I worked a job that had free onsite meals, soda fountains in every breakroom (for free), no dress code, and "creative rooms", ie pool tables, ping pong, video arcade machines.   It was a soul sucking hell hole.  Disconnected management would give unrealistic time lines so you worked 60-80 hrs a week.  If you complained "hey you get free lunch", which was only there to keep you from going offsite.  So your hour lunch was maybe 20 minutes.


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-01-24 1:27:24 PM  

BretMavrik: tobcc: BretMavrik: "He said blurring the line between work and non-work keeps employees tethered to the office, benefiting the employer most of all."

Yeah, there's a reason that back in the day Bloomberg (I think it was Bloomberg) opened a free in-house convenience store and coffee bar for employees. From someone's viewpoint, it cost Bloomberg $50 for the thirty minutes it would take for an employee to go down the street to buy a $5 latte or Red Bull.

But while that may be clever from the viewpoint of one spreadsheet column, it might not be the best thing in the long term. If you have to add something like onsite health/wellness/whatever time and staff because people are getting burned out, now you're paying two people for that non-productive time.

I worked a job that had free onsite meals, soda fountains in every breakroom (for free), no dress code, and "creative rooms", ie pool tables, ping pong, video arcade machines.   It was a soul sucking hell hole.  Disconnected management would give unrealistic time lines so you worked 60-80 hrs a week.  If you complained "hey you get free lunch", which was only there to keep you from going offsite.  So your hour lunch was maybe 20 minutes.

My sister worked for a company that was bought by Google. When they brought in the amenities, people thought they had it made. People would spend half their day playing Call of Duty, grab five Red Bulls and bags of chips on their way out the door, bring in Tupperware dishes to stock up on the catered lunches so they'd also now have a free dinner, etc. I remember her saying something like, "you can bring Google to Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of Texans".

Anyway, it all came crashing down once Google pulled the trigger on what a lot of people suspected... they bought the company simply for their IP. After a year or so they offered generous severance packages to the deadweight while keeping the critical staff, and then sold them and the empty shell to a company that folded soon after. The people who added the most value to the original company were the ones left with nothing. My sister would have been better off being a slacker who was offered a severance in the first round.


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2022-01-24 1:39:15 PM  

BretMavrik: My sister would have been better off being a slacker who was offered a severance in the first round.


Over my 20 years in tech, I've started to learn how to read the decline and fall of a company. A lot of new hires, a big change in management, a "pivot" away from the things that made them a smart workplace and to more things that make them a corporate-y place (happens all the damn time with smaller companies)... it's probably got a lot to do with preferring smaller shops that those things tend to happen right before a decline.

Maybe it also happens before (or during) a meteoric rise, but the odds of that are much lower.

I'm kind of worried I'm in it again - a LOT of acquisitions (the company I was hired by several years ago was bought* last year) and new hires, and a farkton of corporatespeak - especially combined with mandatory all-hands meetings where they brag about sales numbers (which I guess some people like, but I find them to be tedious and pointless salesperson masturbation. Too often, I've seen these kinds of meetings used to boost employees' confidence in the place rather than inform us of anything useful).

Anyway, to sum up: think like a mercenary. When the place you work is no longer the place that hired you in name or culture, especially if they've farked over your (former) coworkers, take the money and run.

// I have several CSBs about companies that farked people - intentionally and not
// e.g. was once offered $5k plus moving expenses to move to an office in New England from a soon-to-be-closed office near DC (so I went all WFH), by a company which had fired and farked over several good people but had a new 8- or 9-figure VC infusion - I declined and watched the flan-in-a-cupboard collapse happen exactly as I expected (while applying for a new job)
*CSB: apparently, there's some farkery there. One thing that attracted me to them was that it was run by the same guy who'd founded it 15 (now 20) years later, and he was proud that they'd never taken a dime of VC funding (also proud that he'd turned down a lot of offers). All of a sudden (end of 2020, like in the last 2 weeks), New Corporate Overlords swoop in and made him an offer he couldn't refuse, and he immediately moved his family to a state with 0 income taxes. I need to follow up with a former coworker/family friend of the old owner to find out more.
 
2022-01-24 2:27:26 PM  

mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.


If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.
 
2022-01-24 2:52:45 PM  

TheSubjunctive: At a certain point economically, the risk isn't that your highly-paid employees are going to go to a competitor.  It's that they get burned out, start reading FIRE forums, save up $2 million, and move to a goat farm in New Hampshire.


That's not a risk, that's the plan. Google, Facebook, et al. gobble you up, remove your personal life, extract everything of value and spit you out in order to do the same thing to someone else.
 
2022-01-24 3:14:15 PM  

yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.


What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.
 
2022-01-24 4:06:42 PM  

mcreadyblue: yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.

What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.


If you have 100 employees, and 20% is in 100% of the work week, and the last 80% is in on parts of the week (say a bunch of people WFH on friday to start the weekend earlier, maybe have thuesdays for WFH to look after the children, some may WFH on thursdays because it is all meetings anyway), you might be able to seat all of them with only 50 desks (depending on the overlap).

This means half the space is needed, and smaller buildings can be bought/rented. This saves in the rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, cleaning etc costs.
 
2022-01-24 5:43:52 PM  
My firm is designing a new headquarters for a large financial firm, something we haven't done before but has been pretty interesting. My guess is that besides all the cubicles, 70% of the floor space is for meeting rooms, a handful of private offices, and crazy amenities like games, kitchens, movies, gym, whatever. Certainly a level or two down from Google, but it's all so obvious that it's to keep people staying there longer hours (it's not like their baseline productivity would go up without these distractions).

I don't necessarily agree that this hotelling idea is going to solve all the problems though. That's been en vogue for over a decade and the results are mixed. You're trading in one problem for another, without addressing the real issues in my opinion. Then again I've never designed a billion dollar campus so what do I know?
 
2022-01-24 5:59:10 PM  

DerAppie: mcreadyblue: yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.

What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.

If you have 100 employees, and 20% is in 100% of the work week, and the last 80% is in on parts of the week (say a bunch of people WFH on friday to start the weekend earlier, maybe have thuesdays for WFH to look after the children, some may WFH on thursdays because it is all meetings anyway), you might be able to seat all of them with only 50 desks (depending on the overlap).

This means half the space is needed, and smaller buildings can be bought/rented. This saves in the rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, cleaning etc costs.


Sorry, I meant why have 20% of your workforce in the office in temporary desks for 1 day a week.  What benefit does the business derive from this odd schedule?
 
2022-01-24 6:07:44 PM  

mcreadyblue: DerAppie: mcreadyblue: yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.

What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.

If you have 100 employees, and 20% is in 100% of the work week, and the last 80% is in on parts of the week (say a bunch of people WFH on friday to start the weekend earlier, maybe have thuesdays for WFH to look after the children, some may WFH on thursdays because it is all meetings anyway), you might be able to seat all of them with only 50 desks (depending on the overlap).

This means half the space is needed, and smaller buildings can be bought/rented. This saves in the rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, cleaning etc costs.

Sorry, I meant why have 20% of your workforce in the office in temporary desks for 1 day a week.  What benefit does the business derive from this odd schedule?


Well, then they can go with a building 20% the size, and people can still have moments to get some whiteboard time in.

That's what I miss third most about WFH. Just scribbling on a whiteboars with a colleague when trying to talk through something.
 
2022-01-24 6:24:33 PM  

DerAppie: mcreadyblue: DerAppie: mcreadyblue: yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.

What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.

If you have 100 employees, and 20% is in 100% of the work week, and the last 80% is in on parts of the week (say a bunch of people WFH on friday to start the weekend earlier, maybe have thuesdays for WFH to look after the children, some may WFH on thursdays because it is all meetings anyway), you might be able to seat all of them with only 50 desks (depending on the overlap).

This means half the space is needed, and smaller buildings can be bought/rented. This saves in the rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, cleaning etc costs.

Sorry, I meant why have 20% of your workforce in the office in temporary desks for 1 day a week.  What benefit does the business derive from this odd schedule?

Well, then they can go with a building 20% the size, and people can still have moments to get some whiteboard time in.

That's what I miss third most about WFH. Just scribbling on a whiteboars with a colleague when trying to talk through something.


Ok. I assumed the employees constituting the 20% would be different each week.
 
2022-01-24 7:03:11 PM  

mcreadyblue: DerAppie: mcreadyblue: DerAppie: mcreadyblue: yet_another_wumpus: mcreadyblue: So this guy wants cubicles replaced with 'hoteling'.

Awesome idea.

If a different 20% of your workforce is in the office at any time, "hoteling" makes sense.  Sometimes.

/works as a repair technician
//has to work onsite (WFH just isn't going to happen)
///unfortunately, while some of the gear is seriously expensive, it is the little things (typically built in house, so multiple copies wouldn't add significantly to the cost) that other people consistently break leaving you spending more time fixing your tools than fixing what you are supposed to fix.  Don't suspect management will ever figure that out.

What's the benefit of 20% of your workforce working from a temporary desk?

I just don't see it.

If you have 100 employees, and 20% is in 100% of the work week, and the last 80% is in on parts of the week (say a bunch of people WFH on friday to start the weekend earlier, maybe have thuesdays for WFH to look after the children, some may WFH on thursdays because it is all meetings anyway), you might be able to seat all of them with only 50 desks (depending on the overlap).

This means half the space is needed, and smaller buildings can be bought/rented. This saves in the rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, cleaning etc costs.

Sorry, I meant why have 20% of your workforce in the office in temporary desks for 1 day a week.  What benefit does the business derive from this odd schedule?

Well, then they can go with a building 20% the size, and people can still have moments to get some whiteboard time in.

That's what I miss third most about WFH. Just scribbling on a whiteboars with a colleague when trying to talk through something.

Ok. I assumed the employees constituting the 20% would be different each week.


Ah, yeah. That would be weird. I kinda assumed we were both talking about the one day a week thing.

There are talks about instituting a 2 day a week maximum at the office when the WFH mandate ends. I moved for work just before corona. If that 2 day max becomes a thing I might be moving a ways back. Maybe see if I can't get a job where I can get 5 days at the office. Which would be kinda sad though, cause I like my current job. Just can't be arsed with this WFH stuff.
 
2022-01-24 10:24:52 PM  
WFH for the foreseeable future.

I agree that businesses have identifying  the benefit of the company store business model.

They have jazzed it up, and pick from a cafeteria menu of lifestyle benefits. It works best with the young folks who don't see that they are being Pavlov's into the workaholic type A employee that puts business before their own best interests.

Now I have to go complete my online work/life balance coaching video during my off hours.

Johnny Cash - Sixteen Tons (Official Music Video)
Youtube tfp2O9ADwGk
 
2022-01-25 3:53:34 AM  
Its pretty on-brand for google, offer a bunch of services and amenities at no tangible cost to the users but with an unethical self-serving motive that benefits the company far more then the subject.
 
kab
2022-01-25 4:33:52 AM  
Hard pass on ever going back to an office.  Everything about it is inefficient.
 
2022-01-25 12:58:27 PM  

kab: Hard pass on ever going back to an office.  Everything about it is inefficient.


Good for you to have the option. Many others don't have that luxury. For example...

- People who don't have a good internet connection at home.
- People who share a three-bedroom 700 sq ft flat with two or more other people.
- People whose jobs require handling of organizational equipment, materials, documentation, etc. that you definitely *do not* want people keeping at home.
 
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