Golden Handcuffs: Glamorous Tech Company Perks & Brutal Work

[ The Economist ]

Tech firms that offer lavish perks to their staff do not do so out of the goodness of their hearts. They offer them because they expect people to work so hard that they will not have time for such mundane things as buying lunch or popping to the dry-cleaners. As Gerald Ledford of the University of Southern California’s business school puts it, they are “golden handcuffs” to keep people at their desks. Some of the most extravagant perks are illusions: “take as much holiday as you like” may really mean “take as little as possible, and as much as you dare.”

Last month I finished my UX/UI Design bootcamp apprenticeship at Bloc.io. For the last few weeks I’ve been finishing up my portfolio and now I am ready to look for jobs.

I’d love to work at Google, Microsoft, or Apple. But I have heard through friends who have worked there and who currently do that these companies can easily become the entirety of your life. You work your eight hours, come home, and then work some more. If you interface with Asia, your work restarts at 5pm. You are always working. I don’t want that. Work is an important part of my life, but I want to spend the majority of my life with my wife and my children, not my coworkers.

Free food? Yes! But if that means others will frown at me for “wasting time” by going outside the campus to eat lunch with a friend? No thanks. Unlimited vacation? Now that sounds too good to be true, and I bet it is. I’m going to be checking out how much vacation everyone else is taking or has taken — not much at all probably — and not veer too much from that. There’s no way I’ll be taking month-long vacations because there’s no way I’ll be able to get all the work done.

At the end of the day I need to make a decision: will I spend my time and energy running after money, success, material wealth, etc. or will I seek something else more valuable? In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus warns: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I will choose to invest in heavenly treasures.

Which company is a good place to do UX/UI design work when you value work-life balance? Let me know.