Google CEO defends desk-sharing policy, says some offices are like a ‘ghost town’

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Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai gestures throughout a session on the World Financial Discussion board (WEF) annual assembly in Davos, on January 22, 2020.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the cloud unit’s new desk-sharing coverage for workers, describing a few of the firm’s workplaces as virtually empty and reminding staffers that actual property is expensive.

“To me it’s apparent that they’re attempting to be environment friendly and lower your expenses however on the identical time additionally make the most of assets,” Pichai mentioned in a companywide assembly final week, in response to audio obtained by CNBC. “There are folks, by the best way, who routinely complain that they arrive in and there are huge swaths of empty desks and it feels prefer it’s a ghost city — it’s simply not a pleasant expertise.”

Pichai’s feedback comply with a CNBC report final month about Google’s plan to ask cloud workers and companions to share desks on the division’s 5 largest areas, which embrace New York and San Francisco. The corporate is asking the downsizing effort Cloud Workplace Evolution (CLOE).

On Alphabet’s fourth-quarter earnings name in early February, executives mentioned they anticipate Google to incur prices of about $500 million within the present interval associated to lowered world workplace house, as the corporate reckons with slowing income development and ongoing recession considerations.

Pichai indicated that there are lots of folks coming to the workplace “solely two days every week,” which he mentioned makes for an inefficient use of present house.

“We needs to be good stewards of economic assets,” Pichai mentioned. “We now have costly actual property. And in the event that they’re solely utilized 30% of the time, we’ve to watch out in how we give it some thought.”

On the identical all-hands assembly, Anas Osman, Google Cloud’s technique and operations vice chairman, mentioned about one-third of workers had been coming into the workplaces at the least 4 days every week, citing information from a pilot the group performed with regard to returning to bodily areas.

As a part of the pilot, Osman mentioned, workers got the choice of getting a devoted or a shared desk.

“These one-to-one desks truly had been utilized roughly 35% of the time at 4 days or extra,” Osman mentioned. “We predict this can be a good steadiness of the way to each discover efficiencies and create a greater expertise.” 

In some methods, sharing additionally led to extra productiveness, he mentioned.

The info from the pilot exhibits that Googlers reported considerably higher collaboration after they had assigned days within the workplace even when that was in a rotational mannequin and a shared desk,” Osman mentioned.

Pichai mentioned the brand new coverage is only for cloud workers in the intervening time, and added that the corporate is “giving groups freedom to experiment.” The cloud division makes up roughly 1 / 4 of the corporate’s general workforce.

In the course of the assembly, Pichai addressed worker considerations relating to the rollout of the desk-sharing coverage and the way it was communicated to the workforce. CNBC beforehand reported that memes began displaying up within the inner Memegen system criticizing the messaging from management. One well-liked meme mentioned, “Not each cost-cutting measure must be phrase mangled into sounding good for workers.”

In responding to questions and feedback submitted by workers, Pichai learn one which mentioned, “double communicate is disrespectful and irritating,” and “unhealthy issues occur, no must make each unhealthy factor sound like a miracle.”

Pichai mentioned in response, “I agree with the sentiment right here. The suggestions is legitimate.”

“We must always at all times attempt to be as simple as doable,” Pichai mentioned. “I believe it’s essential to grasp at our scale, just about all communication are public in nature. You’re talking to the world and there are lots of, many stakeholders and so at occasions, nuance is essential and phrases can have a fabric influence and I believe typically you see that mirrored in a few of the communications.”

A Google spokesperson did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

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