Highlights from Reddit users’ chat with an anonymous Google employee:
Is it considered taboo in Google culture to go home at 5pm, like it is a lot of places in the software industry lately?
I don’t think it’s taboo to go home at 5. I sometimes go home much earlier. My personal policy is that if I realize I am being entirely ineffective (say, I’m overly tired or having a bad day, or just not in the groove), I won’t waste my or Google’s time by sitting and staring at my workstation – I go home. On the days where I’m in the groove and making great progress, I’ll keep working from home in the evenings (because I want to).
Does anyone work from home or is it compulsory to work at the office?
Tons of people work from home. If you can do your job, there’s no real requirement on where you are. Of course, there are advantages to being in the office – face to face time with coworkers, being able to be in a meeting in person, etc. But there’s no requirement that you be in the office at any time.
What’s the dress code like?
I don’t think we have one. I think it falls under the other codes, primarily “don’t be a jackass.” But I’ve seen folks in suits, kilts, pajamas, sweats, etc.
What is the use of Google products like inside Google, like would it be acceptable to submit a report or document using Docs or have a professional long distance meeting over a hangout?
Extensive. If anyone submitted a report or doc with something other than Docs, they’d get funny looks and probably get mocked mercilessly ;) We use hangouts all the time. We really believe in “eating our own dogfood”./CONTINUES
How much “brainstorming” time do you get in a day?
It varies a lot depending on what phase of a project I’m in. For a while last year, I spend [sic] like 90% of my time brainstorming. Today I spent 0%, since I was just trying to get some code checked in.
Have you ever seen evidence of hand picking, bias, or coutright censorship occurring between how keyword/search queries are matched with search results?
I absolutely have not. I’ve really only seen people at every level routinely do their best to avoid anything of the sort, or even something that could be construed as anything of the sort.
Whats the food like? Do you get good dessert?
The food is pretty great. Here were the menus from the two cafes today.
Dessert varies over time. Right now we have a bakery in one of the cafes where I think they are just trying to make us really fat. They also have cakes and cookies and so forth every day. There’s also a froyo/soft serve machine that is pretty great. On the main campus they have a lot more options. But yeah, we get good dessert.
How many hours a week do you work? How many hours a week does the typical Googler work?
I don’t know how many hours a week I work. I think it varies. But probably around 40, on average. More when I’m more excited about work. Less when I’m not. I don’t know about the typical Googler, but we try hard to get people to strike a good work/life balance.
What would you say is the secret to Google’s success?
That would be violating my NDA ;)
Honestly, though, for the most part there really is a culture of “focus on the user”. A lot of Googlers, myself included, are really proud to work at Google. We do actually really try hard to do “the right thing” all the time.
Years ago I heard they even put software problems on the bathroom stalls. Is this still true?
I haven’t seen software problems, but we do post all kinds of useful advice. Sometimes it’s advice about software practices like unit testing. There’s one that’s been there for a while now trying to tell me all about what the liver does.
Do you solve most of your problems at work by Googling them?
A surprising number. It’s kind of scary. :)