Trouble in paradise: The pros and cons of working at Google

by HCA08 Nov 2013

Popular website Quora is a great place to gain insights on a variety of questions, but we here at HC like to use it as Fun Friday fuel. As could be expected, users of the question-asking site have pondered the good and bad of working at many organisations.

Trawling the site for questions that ask both what is good and what is not-so-good about Google, we’ve put together some of our favourite pros and cons of working at the chart-topping employer:

Good: The ‘death benefit’. When a Google employee passes away, their stock vests immediately, and their surviving spouse receives 50% of their salary for the next 10 years. There is also an additional $1000 per month for any children left behind.

Bad: Turns out middle management is middle management wherever you go. One poster stated that middle managers at Google were completely focused on metrics and didn’t have the skills to inspire their workforce, relying on the brand name to do it for them.

Good: One user mentioned that never in their life had they “met so many people with a Wikipedia page than in the last one year!” Sounds good to us.

Bad: Despite its image as a company of innovation, the size and establishment of Google means that employees have a hard time innovating. As such, any entrepreneurial thoughts are squashed.

Good: Being able to bring their dog to work was a great perk for one former employee, who, despite the hassle sometimes of looking after a dog at work, loved that they could take them for a walk when on a break.

Bad: For contractors and other temp workers, the culture of Google is snobbish. Full-time employees treat others as incompetent and morally inferior. Apparently, being freelance (so being your own boss) means you must be stupid. Go figure!

Good: The free shuttle to the Mountain View Google Campus was a highlight for some, allowing them to not worry about driving and have a few drinks after working without worrying about leaving the car.

Bad: The food and other amenities provided mean people spend more time in the office than at home, breaking down any idea of a work/life balance.

Good: Apparently, working at Google is the best part about working at Google. Makes sense.

Bad: Perhaps the most interesting downside was the over-qualification of most of Google’s employees, with many highly-skilled workers with fantastic resumes relegated to simpler roles simply because of the sheer brilliance of working there. One former employeeoffered the following:

“I used to joke with my colleagues that Larry & Sergey [founders of Google] go out on their yachts – tie them together … smoke cigars, and put up pictures of[Google employees] with little snippets like "was a GM at multi-national telecomm company, got a Harvard MBA and is now answering Orkut tickets [Complaints for one of Google’s social networking sites]."  And then they would erupt in laughter and clink their cigars & Scotch together in celebration.  This, of course, is highly unlikely given neither of them would ever smoke a cigar or drink Scotch.  Remainder is plausible.”