Report: Google Kills Employee "20% Time"
August 19, 2013 10:07 AM
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High productivity requirements eliminate 20% time according to sources
Google has always been famous for its
. From childcare to naps to gourmet meals, many other companies have tried to copy Google's perks in an effort to lure in and retain employees. One of Google's most interesting perks is what the company called
20% time allowed employees to take a single day each week to work on side projects. Google's 20% time sparked some of the company's biggest innovations including its huge moneymaker AdSense, Gmail, Google Talk, and Google News. While Google hasn’t officially killed 20% time, it has made changes that have all but eliminated 20% time from the Google culture.
reports that Google has effectively shut down 20% time by requiring that all engineers get approval from management to use 20% time to work on independent projects. Previously, 20% time was the right of everyone who worked at Google. Taking that a step further, upper management at Google has reportedly discouraged managers from approving any 20% projects at all.
Those managers are judged on team productivity, which is measured by an internal analytics team who keep an eye on employee productivity. Reports indicate that the level of productivity these teams are required to deliver assumes that all employees are working on primary responsibilities 100% of the time.
Google CEO Larry page
killed off Google Labs
, which fostered the development of experimental projects. Employees using their 20% time created many of those Google Labs projects.
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8/20/2013 12:40:22 AM
It's a bit early to say innovation at Apple or Google is dead. Apple has typically had a several year gap between industry altering products (iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc), so it's a bit early to pronounce judgement. That being said, without Jobs, apples's chances are lower.
Apple's real innovation has always been its ability to take a pre-existing concept and turn into a product everybody wants. While there were tablets prior to the ipad, they were poorly executed (tablet pc, umpc). Apple essentially created the market. Prior to the iPhone, industry analysts would say "smart phones will never sell as well as normal cell phones since it requires more user interaction". Today, smartphones are outselling normal cell phones. That's largely thx to apple showing how things could work (app store independent of provider, easy to use interface without stylus or keypad, etc..). Again, the technologies weren't necessarily innovative, but the execution was. And because of this, these products turned out to be industry disrupting products.
As to google, I think the decision cuts both ways. I can easily see the 20% being abused, with little results to show for the wasted time over the past few years. I could see employees, over time, feeling entitled to use one day a week to do whatever they wanted. While the idea may have been great to begin with, given enough time, people will abuse any system put in place. It's human nature(the public sector/socialist countries are a good example of this). That being said, having Google move to a more capitalistic approach makes it more vulnerable to the traditional problems of larger companies that others have mentioned above.
I guess the real take home is "let's wait and see" how the next few years go. We should have a pretty good idea by then how deep the damage runs from these decisions/changes by then. If they fail to release anything or miss execute badly (say ios7 falls on its face pretty hard), we'll know.
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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