It's not a perk

Photo via Geekwire

This week Microsoft announced that it would be building a cricket pitch in its envisioned Redmond campus redesign. Blog posts about the new design, excitedly pointed out that this is demonstrative of both Microsoft’s lagress and its changing workforce that includes more professionals from foreign countries where cricket is popular.

While certainly demonstrative that MS is appreciating the cultures of its staff, I have one question - why don’t you do that by letting them go home on time?

Though less noted since Ballmer's departure, MS is not known as some heart warming company that just wants to have to a good time and make exciting technology. Like most companies, they expect to get their money’s worth when they invest in their employees. I won’t knock MS for its payscale and benefits, and along with that it shouldn’t be any surprise that they would ask a lot of their staff.

So as the perks go up, anyone in technology should know something - they expect a return on investment. MS isn’t doing this for lagress - they are doing it as an advertisement of how great of company they are, how cool they are, and how it’s all about having fun. But all that comes at a price. If they actually cared about people just playing cricket they make a pitch open to the public in a park. They could even call it the Microsoft Office 2018 Park for all I care.

For years I have worked for companies, not all of them mind you, that thought that a once a month happy hour, including one free beer, or having Cokes in the fridge was compensation for fourteen extra hours a week. Even at $10 an hour minimum wage, a couple beers doesn’t pan out for anyone except the employer in that situation.

Instead of a happy hour on Friday, can I leave an hour early or just stay so I don’t have to stay late on Monday? Cause work still needs to get done.

The more perks I hear a company put in their company profile, the more concerned I am. Health insurance is ultimately a salary negotiation, but noting you have a sweet pool table and Jimmy Jon’s every Tuesday, tells me I’ll be expected to work late and not leave the office on Tuesday.

I’m not especially annoyed about cricket pitch in Redmond. I’m not losing sleep or thinking that corporate overlords won. I’m sure ultimately it will allow for intramural sports between the staffs and that it will also be a place of appreciation days for employees.

Ultimately however, while MS shouldn’t look like a fucking 1930s coal factory, we also shouldn't kid ourselves that “campuses” are there for our benefit. As Bill Gates in The Simpsons so well put - I didn’t get rich by signing a bunch of checks.