Blog touts Microsoft work culture over Googleplex life

Insider Google blog says life inside the web giant isn't as peachy as some make it out to be

Meanwhile, old-timers "still put in a lot of hours, but the passion of the college kids isn't there," he wrote.

Absent initiating a stock buyback program to boost Microsoft's stock price, the writer recommends that Microsoft match Google's perks in its weak areas. For instance, he recommends making all food free on Microsoft campus.

"That single benefit gets people to work earlier because hot breakfast is served only until 8:30," he wrote. "And since dinner isn't served until 6:00 or 6:30 the people with a home-life tend to skip it."

In areas where Microsoft is already stronger than Google, it should further improve its perks. For instance, most Google developers have cubicles or "desks are literally in hallways because there's no room anywhere else," he wrote.

That contrasts with Microsoft, where most developers have their own office. To play to that strength, Microsoft should "loosen up" and allow employees to "have their office painted any color they want," he wrote.

The respondent also wrote that "Google has no facility for career growth. Microsoft has more, but could do better."

Goodenough liked the writer's suggestions, though he rated career development higher than free food.

"It is not as sexy, it is not as immediate at some other things he mentioned but it is what matters in the long run," he said. According to Goodenough, Microsoft has made "some really bad decisions" in the past several years restricting employee mobility.

"Staff hate this model and it restricts their ability to move, make their own choices and leaves them at the mercy of their immediate boss who may or may not be making decisions in the best interest of the employee," he said.

Goodenough also said that Google's reported ratio of employees per manager is "really out of bounds."

"In the Google model you are pushed to essentially manage yourself," he said. "The net result of that is lack of direction, no feedback from a more experienced manager/worker, lots of emphasis on 'you should know how to do your job' without adequate direction. All the studies in this field say the things that motivate an employee most are pleasing the boss (hard to do if you cannot talk to them), being able to know or understand exactly what you are expected to do (hard to know in the Google model), having the resources you need to do the job assigned (hard to access if you are doing this as one of a hundred direct reports)."

By contrast, at Microsoft the issue is less under-managed workers, and more about wishy-washy management compounded by unclear communication.

"I find most of my Microsoft clients find that they don't really know the expectations for the delivery deadlines," Goodenough said.

Goodenough said the part of the blog that rang most true is how alike the Google of today is with Microsoft -- NOT the 2007 version, when it is accused of being a lumbering giant unable to deliver products like Windows Vista on time, but when Redmond was lean and hungry twenty years ago. And that Google will one day likely face the same challenges.

"I totally agree," Goodenough said. "Twenty years from now, Google...will essentially become the Microsoft of today. This is the norm."

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