Google reportedly kills '20-per cent time' without actually killing it

Google’s "20-per cent time" initiative, which allotted employees their individual time to dream up services like Gmail, Maps and AdSense - is no longer a benefit at the company, according to a new report. 

The initiative meant employees had about one working day a work to tinker around, and the results often bore new services and products for the company that went on to become huge hits. A new report from Quartz, however, which cited anonymous sources, claimed Google had stopped 20 per cent time without officially ending it.

It's been previously reported that Google started making employees request approval from management before taking their 20 per cent time. This was considered a huge policy shift, as that time was previously a work right for all employees. Also, Google shut down Google Labs in 2011, where many of the 20-per cent time projects became available to the public, but the company supposedly promised that killing Labs didn't mean the death of the initiative. 

Former Google engineer Ben Maurer answered a Quora question in 2010 about his experience with 20-per cent time from 2004 to 2009, as well as why the initiative isn't really a perk. He said there was a "colossal amount of overhead" when launching a project developed during 20-per cent time, and those who launched projects would then have to spend their 20-per cent time consistently maintaining the projects.

Lastly, according to Maurer, 20-per cent time negatively affected performance reviews by peers. It just looked better when a co-worker spent 100 per cent of his or her time contributing to a main project. 

Read: Google is killing yet another service: Alfred to shut down 19 July

It therefore looks like Google has been trying to phase out 20-per cent time for a while - just as it has been shutting down several products in recent years in a bid to tighten its umbrella and focus its roadmap.