Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, shared his vision of the search giant’s new hybrid return-to-work plans via an internal message from the CEO to his employees. The plan would call for around 60% of Googlers coming together in the office for a few days a week, while another 20% will work in new office locations, and 20% are anticipated to work remotely.
In his post, Pichai first offered some perspective, writing “For more than 20 years, our employees have been coming to the office to solve interesting problems — in a cafe, around a whiteboard, or during a pickup game of beach volleyball or cricket. Our campuses have been at the heart of our Google community and the majority of our employees still want to be on campus some of the time.”
He then acknowledged the desires of his team saying “many of us would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple days of week, spending time in another city for part of the year, or even moving there permanently. Google’s future workplace will have room for all of these possibilities.”
Pichai went on to offer the details of the plan “We’ll move to a hybrid work week where most Googlers spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best.” He advised that there will “be roles that may need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of the work.”
Regarding remote work, he said in the memo “We’ll also offer opportunities for you to apply for completely remote work (away from your team or office) based on your role and team needs.” Employees could apply for remote work within their product areas or ask for transfers to different locations.
He also raised a point which might not be well received by the Googlers “Whether you choose to transfer to a different office or opt for completely remote work, your compensation will be adjusted according to your new location.”
Going forward, Googlers will have the availability to work on a temporary basis from locations outside of their main office for a period of up to four weeks per year with the consent of the person’s manager. The goal is intended to offer flexibility, especially during the summer and holiday time periods.
Google and other companies are facing a conundrum. After over one year of working at home, people have grown accustomed to it. While not perfect, most employees like the work and life balance, not having to commute back and forth wasting hours a day.
The prevailing consensus among corporations is the flexible hybrid system in which some people will be in the office two or three days a week, a large percentage would require full remote work and a few may want to be in the office every day. Then you have outliers like digital nomads who go from place-to-place and those who decided to move somewhere less expensive to save money.
Managers will try to be sympathetic and empathetic but it won’t be easy to navigate all these competing interests and different schedules and time zones. It’s likely, despite the rhetoric of remote work, executives will push hard to get everyone under one roof.
Although Google’s CEO mapped out a plan for returning to work, the company has been building and repurposing office spaces to make them highly attractive, particularly to the coveted Gen-Z and younger millennials. The offices were built to make them as, or more attractive, than living in a small apartment or being home with their parents.
Google has been creating a post-pandemic workplace that will attract and keep people at the office. “Instead of rows of desks next to cookie-cutter meeting rooms, Google is designing “Team Pods.” Each pod is a blank canvas: Chairs, desks, whiteboards and storage units on casters can be wheeled into various arrangements, and in some cases rearranged in a matter of hours,” wrote The New York Times.
The company created a new type of meeting room called Campfire. Instead of sitting at an austere mahogany-wood conference table in a sterile room, Googlers would sit in a circle with huge screens for video conferences to accommodate remote workers and those at different locations.
Google is building cool outdoor hangouts. The company’s Silicon Valley headquarters converted a parking lot and lawn area into “Camp Charleston” which offers greenery and wooden-deck flooring. There will be tables and chairs sprinkled around as well as open-air tents. Meetings could be held in large “teepees” that boast high-end video conferencing technology.
This architectural trend seems like a savvy way to entice more people to return to the office.