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Free Soda & losing sight of goals

Chris posted in the "Free Soda" topic an example of why companies ditch free soda when they grow:

<quote>
Just to add a little random information to this thread, I'm actually at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View CA today & tomorrow. They've got the free soda cooler there, and there's a sticker on it that says:

"Remember, these coolers cost $8 million a year..."

Wow, that's a lot of soda.
</quote>

I'd just write underneath:
"Remember, these coolers earned you $32 billion last year..."

Philo

Philo
Thursday, June 19, 2003

"Remember, these coolers earned you $32 billion last year..."

... And that's why we fired all the programmers and hired the soda delivery guy.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 19, 2003

It's all about trust.

The problem is when most companies get large they also get impersonal. The them-vs-us syndrome sets in and a larger proportion of people are willing to, shall we say, stretch the rules of normal behavior. So free anything turns into a glut-fest. In a typical big company, people would be taking home a carton or more of sodas a day.

I once worked at a BIG Co. R&D center with over 2000 employees. At one time they tried making the stockroom a free honor system supply depot, whereas previously you had to sign for everything with a charge number. In the first year of the experiment they "dispensed" over 4000 free socket wrench sets. That's 2 socket wrench sets per employee and I don't remember ever getting one, so someone else must have gotten 4.

Obviously there was a minor theft ring operating there, but it proved to management that employees in general could not be trusted to take out anything larger than pens and pencils without a control system. Now even pens and pencils are under guard.

old_timer
Friday, June 20, 2003

$8M worth of soda for a company with $32B in revenues is not a 'glutfest' - that's 1/4000 of revenues spent on beverages.

One company I worked at had 125 employees and $20M in revenues. Applying the same formula, that would equate to $5k/year in beverages, or $40/person/year - less than a dollar a week.

The *problem* is exactly as stated on the sign - when a company grows, some bean-counters are likely to look at perqs in absolute terms instead of related to number of employees and revenues. Microsoft keeps focusing on the soda budget as a company line-item instead of a per-employee cost.

Going back to Camel - this is how my pay was so screwed up - someone looked and said "if we delay all payments by 45 days, we can make $x/month". Instead I would say "if we pay subcontractors upon receipt, then we get a huge morale boost for only $x/person/month"

Philo

Philo
Friday, June 20, 2003

Philo do you not have late payment penalty clauses in your contracts?

Justin
Friday, June 20, 2003

Didn't in that one, because my naivete in payment matters led me to believe that a multibillion dollar company wouldn't have problems meeting a "net 30" obligation.

Didn't realize they'd redefined "net 30" or that they'd even milk a few more days after that.

Philo

Philo
Friday, June 20, 2003



IMHO I could care less for perks. 

I'd rather work in an environment where employers don't try and instill a false sense caring about their employees/contractors.

The internet startup I did work in was rife with this kind of crap.  What they expected in return was the ability to get a hold of you 24x7 by cell - was part of the culture. 

Screw that - pay me more cash and I'll buy my own soda.

James Nicoll
Friday, June 20, 2003

>IMHO I could care less for perks. 
>
>What they expected in return was the ability to get a hold
>of you 24x7 by cell - was part of the culture. 
>
>Screw that - pay me more cash and I'll buy my own soda.

I am stunned - that is exactly similar to the discussion that has been going on in eastern europer/ex USSR for the last ten years.

Previously you had the Homo Sovieticus - a person bound into the previous system by, well, some sort of perks.

Now the system is no longer, but Homo Sovieticus remains,
with all his previous attachments allegiances.

Huge problem for the society; since it is a really hard job to change a grown up persons behaviour.

Michael Moser
Friday, June 20, 2003

Just to add, the purpose of the sign on the cooler was basically to say "Please don't empty this out to stock your home barbeque party," not "You darn coders drink too much soda!"

Chris Tavares
Friday, June 20, 2003

Chris,

The sign was open for many interpretations, and the fact that they highlighted this means they thought about it. The paranoid person will wonder why they're tracking how much soda he drinks.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 20, 2003

The fuller text of the stickers on the drinks fridges is more like "Remember, this is at at-work perk.  The drinks program costs $8 million a year". 

Of course everyone there knows that $8 million isn't that big for Microsoft, and MS must consider it well worth the investment or they'd do something else.  It really is just a grown-up reminder to be sensible and not abuse it. 

andrewm
Friday, June 20, 2003


It's our constional right to take all the drinks. The constitution says so. Dumbass. Etc.

(ps, not a serious post)

Basil Brush
Friday, June 20, 2003

Which quote is correct? (I suspect the latter.)

Why would the original poster (Chris) edit the quote?

Strange.

njkayaker
Saturday, June 21, 2003

I didn't edit the quote so much as try to repeat the information from a poor memory after a quick glimpse.

I apologize if my fuzzy recollection caused people to misinterpret.

Chris Tavares
Sunday, June 22, 2003

all reasons why I'll never work in a place with more than a dozen employees.


Sunday, June 22, 2003

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