Working at Google is Not The Dream It’s Supposed To Be

Google has a two-tier workforce, with half of the 170,000 people who work for Google classified as temporary or contract workers, and permanent employees are instructed to treat them differently in a variety of ways. According The Guardian, there's a written company guide that says Google staff are not to reward certain workers with perks like T-shirts, invite them to all-hands meetings, or allow them to engage in professional development training. Ugh! I experienced that same bullying at ADT which was shocking. There's a NetLingo word for it: NQOCD.

The contract workers also don’t get benefits at Google, they can’t list on LinkedIn that they work for Google, and they are still subject to forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims, a policy that changed for full-time workers after a global walkout by Google employees (see below!). According to one employee, Google’s contract worker policy basically amounts to this: We are legally in the clear to treat people like garbage. Coming from one of the most successful companies in history, it only makes Google look like garbage.

As for their employees, Google has also been quietly urging the U.S. government to overturn an Obama-era protection that lets employees use their work email to organize online, according to Google made an argument to the National Labor Relations Board last November, three weeks after 20,000 of its employees walked out to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment cases. The filing was revealed last week through a Freedom of Information Act request. Busted.

Because Google’s workers are spread around the globe and don’t have most co-workers’ personal emails, its employee email system played a pivotal role in the organizing for that protest.  Google’s push to remove the protection was considered surprising because the company publicly expressed support for the goals of the protest. Busted again. This is yet another instance of Big Tech saying one thing and doing something else, when what they need to do is be more transparent... but not to the degree as Netflix (see previous blog)!

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of
Subscribe to the NetLingo Blog via Email or RSS here | Subscribe to The Week magazine here

Still Like Netflix Knowing Their Employees Work in Constant Fear?

Who wants to work at a place where the culture can be ruthless and demoralizing? How about brutal honesty, ritual humiliation, insider lingo, and constant fear? Sure you always dream about how cool it would be to work at Netflix for example, but the reality of working in Big Tech and many other corporations these days is very different.

You don't care you say, you want the salary, the prestige, the experience. Well apparently ruthless and demoralizing and working in constant fear is the Netflix way. What gives? According to The Wall Street Journal at Netflix, they count "radical candor and transparency" among their highest corporate values. OK... So that means when almost every employee can access sensitive information such as viewer numbers for Netflix’s shows, and when 500+ executives can see the salaries of every staffer, they want to demand the same transparency to evaluating performance? The problem with that is you don't treat humans the way you treat data.

Netflix actually encourages team dinners where everyone goes around and gives feedback and criticism about others at the table, and managers are encouraged to apply a "keeper test" to their staff... asking themselves whether they would fight to keep a given employee and firing those for whom the answer is no. In fact, Netflix infamous CEO Reed Hastings uses the keeper test himself, and last year fired one of the company’s first employees, a close friend for decades. One former Netflixer says she saw a fired colleague crying as she packed her boxes while other employees looked away, fearing that helping her would put a target on their back.

It's kill or be killed according to This is the kind of the place where the Chief Human Resources Officer created a 120-slide PowerPoint deck back in 2004 explaining Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility.” She pushed them to keep only highly effective people and devised the keeper test. You can guess how the story ends: Hastings used the keeper test on her in 2011 and fired her. Don't worry, there's a NetLingo word for what she'll do next: ladder bypass.

For those of us who have endured this kind of corporate hell, it's disheartening to see that Big Tech and other corporations still don't care about bullying people to get rid of dead weight. What's even more challenging is that many employees join companies like this with their eyes open and they don't care either! Otherwise Netflix wouldn't have an 87 percent approval rating on Glassdoor. Netflix also took the No. 1 spot on a survey in which knowledge workers were asked which company they most wanted to join.

C'mon gang, we'll never get rid of this corporate culture of fear until people stop accepting it. The answer lies with you, with us... not with Reed Hastings and his cronies who are clearly acting out of fear themselves. Don't "want to work" there just because you spend so much of your valuable free time consuming their product. Better yet, boycott the product... they may not care in their hearts but they will when they feel it in their wallets. Our workplace environment should at least maintain common decency empower professionals to be their best possible versions.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of
Subscribe to the NetLingo Blog via Email or RSS here | Subscribe to The Week magazine here

Knowledge Workers: It's Time to Embrace Working Remotely

Employees actually hate open offices, everyone knows that. But's it now been scientifically proven that open offices are doing the opposite of what they were intended and causing us more stress. An article in Fast Company points out that they are too symbolically powerful for companies to abandon. What? It’s not just that open offices are cheap—though they are. OK. Open offices signal that people are collaborating and ideas will spark. Not true!

Open offices have become popular at startups and established companies alike, and Facebook even put all 2,800 employees in one 10-acre building! Ugh. The article goes on to point out that these layouts actually lower the percentage of in-person interactions by 70 percent, while emailing and other electronic messaging rises by 50 percent.

Open offices have also been shown to create stress, especially for women who fell like they are on display all of the time. Check that. While sixty-five percent of creative people have said we need quiet or absolute silence to do our best work. Sure enough, open offices changed everything and there's a NetLingo word for it: disruptive technology.

Even CBS News said yep, the latest research shows that most open office plans fail, and that we didn’t need science to prove how much open offices suck the life out of our workday. I can't believe that seventy percent of Americans now work in open offices! That's a lot of people when, they need to have a real conversation or pitch an important client, they have to find a storage closet.

According to the Financial Times, at the trending WeWork co-working offices, the shared desks seem fairly empty, while the private meeting rooms were full. The ultimate sign that the open office is due for some serious rethinking? Companies are now spending $3,500 for portable soundproof pods to let their employees get away from their colleagues and actually do their work. Gang, if you need to get out from under the fluorescent light, check out job sites like

Dear corporations and businesses alike, the time has come. If you have a productive employee who is capable of performing his or her job offsite, and is equipped with all the office technology and collaboration software as needed, and expresses an interest and desire to do so, then c'mon Big Tech, allow your employees the opportunity to work from home, work remotely, work virtually, telecommute... whatever you want to call it. If not, at least bring back the cube farms.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of
Subscribe to the NetLingo Blog via Email or RSS here | Subscribe to The Week magazine here