Googlers granted home helpers

Google has reversed its trend of cutting down on the perks it offers its employees, launching a programme to provide staff with servants to cater to their every whim.

That's the story being put forward by technology-celebrity watcher ValleyWag, which has noticed that Google has teamed up with odd-job broker TaskRabbit to give its staff access to free labour for household chores that they might be too busy invading privacy or re-inventing the Web to do themselves.

TaskRabbit is a relatively new start-up company, active in five cities across the US, that asks its employees, known as "Runners," to perform menial tasks for website members in exchange for cash - which it then takes a cut of, naturally. Pricing is set by the Runners, who bid on tasks they would like to perform. This bid, plus TaskRabbit's "service fee," is the price that the member pays.

Tasks currently active on the site range from a $19 job to "pick up contact lenses," a $31 job to "wash my motorcycle," and a $36 job to "organize kids' toy room." Larger, and therefore more valuable, tasks include a request for "moving help in San Jose" for $105, and the ultimate test of a Runner's skills: "assemble IKEA furniture," $118.

Googlers, however, aren't expected to part with their hard-earned cash. Instead, the mothership has bartered with TaskRabbit to give its staff "credits," which can be used in place of cash to pay Runners from a central Google pot.

It's actually a fairly neat idea: by reducing the amount of time that an employee has to spend at home doing dull tasks like cooking, cleaning, and assembling flat-pack furniture, you're likely to maximise the time that employee spends at the office.

However, it flies in the face of recent attempts by Google to reduce its somewhat ridiculous overspend on employee perks - and, depending on how many areas TaskRabbit rolls out to, could end up eating away at the company's large but finite budgets.

We've raised the idea of a similar initiative with the powers-that-be here at THINQ, where locals can be tasked to "fetch booze from the off licence" and "tell Big Vinnie we haven't got his £20 yet," but it doesn't appear to have gone down particularly well.