Software workers at Google can make a base salary of up to $718,000 a year, and one says he makes six figures working about five hours a week.
Devon, a software worker at Google who is in his 20s, told Fortune that he works for the tech giant for about an hour a day and makes $150,000. He usually gets out of bed around 9 a.m., takes a shower and makes breakfast, and then works for Google until 11 a.m. or noon. He told Fortune that he works on his new business for the rest of the day.
Devon told Fortune that he couldn’t see why he should work hard when he saw other people work late nights and not move up in the company.
Devon told Fortune, “It’s not like you’d really get promoted for going above and beyond.” Fortune said that it gave the tech a fake name, Devon, to protect his privacy. The news outlet said it saw the engineer’s Google offer letter that confirmed his salary and looked at pictures that showed what he did all day at his startup job. Insider asked Google for a reply, but Google didn’t answer right away.
Devon’s way of working isn’t unique. Jason, who is 22 years old, told Insider that he did two full-time software engineering jobs from home for no more than 30 hours a week to make more money.
Jason said, “I felt my workload at my first job was low enough, and I knew that if I couldn’t handle it then I could simply quit one of the jobs.”
Experts contend about the rise of ‘fake work’ in tech
Some tech experts refer to this trend as “fake work.” Such stories have sparked debate over whether employees at tech companies like Google and Meta are paid high salaries for putting in minimal hours of work.
During the pandemic, tech titans went on hiring sprees in pursuit of what Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley investor, calls the “vanity metric” of headcount, in which employers increase their workforce in an effort to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Some critics have asserted that companies lacked sufficient work to occupy their new employees. This year, Google and Meta lay off thousands of employees.
Thomas Siebel, the billionaire CEO of enterprise AI company C3.ai, told Forbes regarding new employees at the two companies, “They were doing nothing working from home.”
Whether “fake work” is the result of over-hiring or poor management, Devon’s work schedule demonstrates how attitudes toward work have transformed in the pursuit of work-life balance, particularly among Gen Z workers.
These shifting attitudes are reflected in buzzy workplace trends such as quiet quitting, in which employees do what is expected of them — sometimes less — to keep their jobs, and bare minimum Mondays, in which employees do as little work as possible on Mondays to prevent burning out the rest of the week.
According to Devon, no one at Google appears to suspect him of working few hours. During his internship at Google prior to his current position, he worked “probably less than two hours per day,” which allowed him to take a week-long secret vacation to Hawaii while still on the job.
“If I wanted to work long hours, I’d be at a startup,” Devon told Fortune.