“These Guys Have Been Absolutely Unacceptable Pressure”

Material Business Insider about the working conditions in the cutting unit of the holding Alphabet — Google X. Cold February morning in 2015, the group employees withdrew from the headquarters of Google X in mountain view and went to a two-hour journey on a private ranch in Californias Central valley.

This team is engaged in field testing of drones within the framework of Google X (Google after the reorganization of the holding of the Alphabet it is called simply X — ed. Ed.), says Business Insider (BI). Such tests are carried out for 10-12 hours and require employees not only intellectual but also physical work in extreme temperatures and conditions of the Central California valleys surrounding the city of Merced. The staff tried to complain to management on working conditions, but their complaints are mostly ignored.

On that February day the indifference, almost turned into a tragedy. One of the team members, a 50 year old man, lost consciousness during the test. He fell to the ground and began to twitch as if trying to crawl.

The accident was captured on video, colleagues from the Central office called the victim an ambulance. The man survived, but spent the night in the hospital. Some of the interlocutors BI unit X told the publication that he had a heart attack, others were told that the cause of the incident is having an epileptic seizure.

However, all agreed in opinion that the employee was a victim of overload and stress, in these conditions, worked all employees for the Department. Mens health recovered, but to return to his former position, he could not. After a break of two months, he asked to be moved to another job that was less physically exhausting.

Previously, he simultaneously combined the positions of engineer, a pilot, a drone operator and engineer for the flight testing of drones, had long experience in these industries. But the management said no other items, except “land of the drone operator,” for it is in division no, and forced him to return to the fields, and later to leave the company, writes BI.

“It reduced, stating that he was not a team player. He almost gave his life work, and after that, hes not a team player?”, — outraged one of the interlocutors edition. This case illustrate the conditions of work in the project to develop drones Project Wing within division X, was not the only one, says BI.

Technology companies impose too stringent requirements for employees, not willing to work around the clock startup. Some team members describe Project Wing in an interview with BI, the appalling conditions in which they work project staff. Engineers and project managers in headquarters require the testers to spend a huge amount of tests, and then to process huge amount of data obtained after testing in parallel with many hours of work in the field.

The staff tried to convey to management suggestions for improving working conditions, but mostly their complaints are simply ignored. Technicians Google contemptuous attitude to the military past of his colleagues and their claims to work in a startup. “Maybe I shouldnt have to make this team a lot of work,” — said in a conversation with a BI one of the staff X.

“These guys have been absolutely unacceptable to pressure, — said another source. Colleagues discriminated against them just because they came from different environments — from the US army”.

History Project officer Wings illustrates several problems faced by the technology companies when you start work in new industries such as the drones, aerospace industry or construction of unmanned vehicles, says BI. To work they often involve adults from the “traditional” industries that are not ready to work environment in a startup. Scandal in Google went public on the background of how conditions of labor in all the American tech companies are under scrutiny after a scandal with sexual harassment in Uber.

Californian startups are proud of their fraternal atmosphere. Often, the employees are young men, graduates of prestigious universities with a shared Outlook and experience. But it is this corporate culture often leads to discrimination do not fit into her groups, such as women or professionals aged.

A few colleagues admitted to hospital employees Project Wing, told BI that the bad attitude was probably due to the fact that he was classified as “former military”. Although the man was not a veteran of military service, and, in cooperation with the army remained a civilian. But the team did have a few people who had served in the army, then went on vet benefits.

On the basis of email correspondence that I had studied BI, reporters came to the conclusion that the field testers and especially former soldiers repeatedly had conflicts with the immediate supervisor of the test drone Tony Nannini and curator of project Wing the Dev vos. Testers who have had huge experience with complex aircraft like the work of clear rules, more secure protocols and reasonable expectations from their work with the managers of Project Wing.

At the same time, some team members felt that their expertise in the aircraft industry is not enough appreciated by the company, and told the interlocutors BI. Project managers really believed that the professional quality of employees, who in the past worked with military aircraft and military drones, is overvalued, said another employee of to the edition. Between the two groups with a different way of thinking had huge disagreements about how to develop the project.

With the growth of tension members of the team tried to complain about the “anti-war” sentiment. First, the top Manager X, then the HR representative of the project in a big company — Chelsea Bailey. And harassment to the veterans complained from two separate teams, says BI.

When among the staff X conducted an annual survey of the satisfaction of employees who inside Google is called Alphageist team of field testers put Tony Nannini extremely low scores. He low praised the work of his subordinates, told several employees of the publication.

Low score in this survey means that in the future they will not be able to transfer to another job within Google. Thats what happened with the employee who had a stroke on the test field. Nannini did not respond to a request for comment BI.

However, the representative X Courtney Hone defended the Manager in conversation with the publication. “If the Manager does not accept someones idea or recommendation, it does not mean that the professional qualities of employees or their backgrounds treated with contempt, — she said — the Managers job, especially when it comes to testing new technologies is to analyze the different possibilities and outline the most promising way”. But to understand why suffering from the constant pressure the staff did not leave the company, you should be back in 2014, writes BI.

Then a group of Facebook employees in hoodies flew in on private aircraft in new Mexico to buy startup called Titan Aerospace. Titan Aerospace has created drones that were fed by solar energy and can fly for years without needing to land, and to give Internet access to hundreds of millions of people on earth. Startup perfectly fit the concept of the project Internet.org actively developed social network.

Presumably, Facebook then suggested a startup to $60 million. However, Google, which had similar with rival ambitions, took the offer and bought Titan in April 2014. Employees of a startup were delighted.

They owned shares of a startup that had no real value, was converted into Google stock. Employees can sell them through four years of work in the company. All they had to do to get a generous bonus to continue working at Google, which is always the reputation of the ideal place of work, says BI.

Initially, Google was. The Corporation has built for Titan, a new building next to the little airport near the suburb of Albuquerque, is spending his $15 million. But eight months later, after the employees of the startup moved to a new office, Google began to oppress their employees, as described by one of them.

In August 2015 Google has reorganized to a holding company Alphabet, translating each of the units of the business in the separate “letter”. Because of this step, the Corporation was first subjected to public criticism, and some of the selected “letters” has gone through a difficult year. For example, the unit Manager of Nest — performs research and development of “smart home” — Tony Fadell was replaced by the former head of Motorola Marvin Fawaz.

And Verily division, which deals with developments in health care such as contact lens capable of measuring blood sugar levels, the media was accused of not enough scientific research. In October 2015, Google took over Titan Aerospace rethinking. The Corporation decided to bring a start-up in mountain view and cut some employees.

The rest she offered a generous payment for moving to California. Sufficient to cover the loss of $60 thousand for an urgent sale of the house, said one of the employees. Under the terms of the relocation, if employees continued to work for Google during the year, they didnt have anything to reimburse the company for.

However, a month later, regardless of the cost of transportation of employees, which is estimated amounted to more than $75 million, Google completely shut down Titan and dismissed the part of the staff. Someone was offered a job inside a Corporation, for example, those who then will work in the team of field testers in project Wing. But then the problems began in that OU, and then former employees of Titan felt it does not matter.

Dismissal less than a year meant that they would have to fully reimburse the company for tens of thousands of dollars that she spent on moving to California. For some, it also threatened the revocation of the option on shares which they yet could not realize. A low valuation of their work by managers Google hindered their transition to other positions within the Corporation.

It was on all sides a no win situation. However, despite this, some members of the team “just couldnt”. They left the company before that period, when was to receive compensation and the opportunity to implement a stock option, sources tell BI.

The staff of the long-suffering project blamed their troubles the head of the HR Department, the Manager project. However, one person in the company no one ever thinks of what is happening, said BI — co-founder of Google Sergey Brin. All employees of Project Wing constantly in contact with him, describing a co-founder of the company as a “cool guy” who always has ideas on how to solve those or other technical difficulties.

But none of them ever tried to complain Breen directly, believing that he is too high value of the company in order to deal with such trifles. “He was not involved in the work on a daily basis and maybe, so could not see the horror on the faces of the staff,” said one of the employees. A spokesman for Google X, denied in a conversation with BI, which is in Project Wing was hard.

According to her, they always had the opportunity to take a breather. “Workplace for employees Wing “in the field” is a air-conditioned trailer, which is always available snacks and drinks, so that our team can relax in the shade if they need it. We also monitor the number of working hours and working conditions, and an adjustable work schedule in accordance with these indicators”, — assured the representative of the company publishing.

After last years problems, Project Wings occurred in a sense, the coup, told the companys employees BI. If you had designed a drone with a single wing, now designers have developed a new model with a full fuselage. This new drone was successfully tested for the delivery of food from Chipotle restaurants in Virginia in September 2016.

Project Manager David Vos, who supported the hard working conditions and allegedly played a role in the pressure on the test team, left Google in October 2016.

When in December the head of the X Astro teller asked about the departure of EGM, he said that the company “will not be exactly what it was before, when there is a chance to change something, because its a learning process”. Each project X has a specific corporate culture, but Project Wing is especially famous inside Google. Representative X insists that the company employs a huge number of ex-military, and some of them made a brilliant career in X, up to the top positions. Google appreciates their practical experience and skills that they bring to the Corporation.

She also said that about half of current team Project Wing in the past were military. Someone spent part of his career in the defense industry, someone in the aviation industry.

However, some interlocutors BI believe that the problem is deeper and experienced team Wing is not an isolated case. He just opened a symptomatic bias technology companies to certain social groups. “Google applies a lot of public efforts to deal with it,” — said in a conversation with a BI one of the interlocutors.

However to “elderly” people or those “who served in the army”, at least in Project Wing is too much prejudice on a subconscious level, adds the source. “Silicon valley is hard to look in the mirror, it is obvious that the industry now came to need to revise the whole culture that has developed in the companies,” says BI.

Now is the time when you need to realize that the mantra is “work fast and break everything” only works against technology, not people.

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