Dan Ariely: Google and New Labor Models

Behavioral Psychology

Dan Ariely is the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and co-founder of BEworks, which helps business leaders apply scientific thinking to their marketing and operational challenges. His books include Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, both of which became New York Times best-sellers. as well as The Honest Truth about Dishonesty and his latest, Irrationally Yours.

Ariely publishes widely in the leading scholarly journals in economics, psychology, and business. His work has been featured in a variety of media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, Science and CNN.

  • Transcript


Dan Ariely: None of the established big companies are coming up with any interesting labor models.  And the ones that are coming up with interesting labor models are actually the start ups.  They are coming up with all kinds of interesting things.

But the question is, how much of the total work day and total time do you want to dedicate toward efficient execution versus other things?  Somebody who has 100 percent of time dedicated to efficient execution might actually not care about the job at the end, and somebody who has a part of it dedicated to other things might actually care more about even the execution.  

At Google, this idea that 20 percent of your time you can be dedicated to something that you care about personally.  It has two elements.  One is that these 20 percent of the time might become incredibly useful for the company because they don’t think that people are going to sit by the beach or by the pool and just drink coconut juice--or maybe it’s California, so it’s, you know, mixed carrot juice with some leaves or something--, but they don’t think people are going to do that.  Instead they think the people are going to do something useful for the company that might one day have high rewards.  But on top of that, they also think that these 20 percent time that people have to do work on other things would spill over the other 80 percent because all of a sudden they would feel better about the whole company and even their 80 percent of their other time when they’re supposed to do something more specific would be more efficient.  

So, it doesn’t have to be about every moment, but it has to be something more general.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd