Pros: Free food
Cons: dangerous, zero growth, time away from home, no benefits
There is a strong divide between working as a contractor for Google vs being an employee. It was like being at the fence of the garden of Eden, looking in at happy Googlers, while sitting just out of reach. Being a Google employee, a "white badger", is great. Being a contractor (or TVC as Google calls us) can range from honestly very great, to terrible. If you're a developer who is a contractor, or a manager, life is pretty good. But if you're a worker bee, it's rough. The maps people possibly have the worst of it.
The Google divide is becomes quickly, starkly obvious just after starting. There is no health insurance, and no paid time off when working as a Google Maps surveyor (or any TVC). Traveling extensively, often no where interesting, and staying over the weekend with no option to return home for weeks at a time made this job very hard for me, especially because I have a family. Vacations, even short ones, where highly detrimental to putting food on the table and paying rent.
Google gave me a corporate credit card to pay for daily meals, which was good. BUT the card was heavily micromanaged with daily and weekly reports due for its use. Even though it had a daily expenditure cap. But I was never allowed to gain points for purchases, while my managers quickly become diamond Hilton members making reservations for me... A very clear double standard. You are also expected to enter business spaces and survey but without permission from business and business owners, which didn't sit well with me.
It was also falsely advertised as 50-75% travel, but was actually closer – more... to 92.5 percent travel. I counted the days I spent with my wife, I spent about 35 days with her over a year. When I asked about this, I was informed the nature of the work changed since I was hired, and I could quit or continue working. (The nature hadn't changed, it was like that from day 1.)
It was very easy to be fired. Once, this is true, a surveyor accidentally bumped into a Google employee while passing the employee in a hallway. That TVC was fired within ten minutes, because the employee thought it was done on purpose. Another TVC made a joke an employee didn't like, and security literally showed up and escorted that person to their hotel, packed their bags, and brought them to the airport. TVC are constantly criticized my Google managers and TVC managers on the quality of their work. Any dip in "numbers and metrics" usually foreshadowed a reprimand. So a lot of TVC falsified their work to have high numbers, which made honest employees look like slackers. But the "top performers" where not questioned. This really caused a toxic work environment.
Management rarely reached out except to criticize, and frankly couldn't remember TVC names most of the time.
Performance reviews were strange. Many questions were asked, but one question was always asked. Managers constantly asked TVCs is they were "happy", which everyone automatically answered "yes", regardless of the honest of that. Google has a strange was of equating "happiness" to "job performance". While it's true happy employees work better, that doesn't mean honestly unhappy ones aren't working well. But everyone who admitted to being "unhappy" was let go within a month or two.
Fellow TVCs are delusional. Many TVC claim to be Google employees, but become notably distressed when unable to attend Google events, and TVC managers are vindictive when other TVC point out that "we are all TVCs." Many falsely claim to be Google employees on their linkedin profiles. When the job is particularly bad, TVC offer each other reassurance that "at least they can put Google on their resume", which is just sad.
Google managers are removed from the TVC reality. When going to Brazil, I requested emergency medical supplies, which was denied, because Brazil "wasn't a safety concern according to the Google Security Team." While sitting at gunpoint, briefly hostage in a favela, I was relieved that I purchased the kit myself. When we finally notified our Google manager of our near death experience, his response was, "I'm in meetings all day, sounds like you guys are alive and took care of it."
Not having insurance become a big problem too. Due to the laws of probability, I was put in several situations where people tried to actually murder me, either through vehicular homicide while driving, and once at gun point. All in less than a year. Being a combat veteran myself, having some one trying to kill me isn't new. What was new was having zero safety net for my family should I die. And having fellow Americans (or in some cases, Brazilians) trying to kill me.
There was zero protection for women. Several of the female surveyors were nearly sexually assaulted or robbed when working in bad areas. All surveyors are put in situations of questionable safety, but being female seemed to attract even more than usual trouble.
Overall, between the micromanagement, danger, and time away from home, this was a miserable job. I don't recommend it.
If health and life insurance, and paid time off were part of the job, it would have been a better. – less