Google CEO defends desk-sharing coverage, says workplaces like ‘ghost city’

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 among the firm’s workplaces as virtually empty and reminding staffers that actual property is costly.

“To me it’s apparent that they’re attempting to be environment friendly and get monetary savings however on the similar time additionally make the most of sources,” Pichai stated in a companywide assembly final week, in keeping with audio obtained by CNBC. “There are individuals, by the way in which, who routinely complain that they arrive in and there are large swaths of empty desks and it feels prefer it’s a ghost city — it’s simply not a pleasant expertise.”

Pichai’s feedback observe a CNBC report final month about Google’s plan to ask cloud staff and companions to share desks on the division’s 5 largest areas, which embody New York and San Francisco. The corporate is looking the downsizing effort Cloud Workplace Evolution, or CLOE.

On Alphabet’s fourth-quarter earnings name in early February, executives stated they count on 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 there are a lot of individuals coming to the workplace “solely two days per week,” which he stated makes for an inefficient use of present house.

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

On the similar all-hands assembly, Anas Osman, Google Cloud’s technique and operations vp, stated about one-third of staff have been coming into the workplaces no less than 4 days per week, citing knowledge from a pilot the group carried out in regard to returning to bodily areas.

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

“These 1-to-1 desks really have been utilized roughly 35% of the time at 4 days or extra,” Osman stated. “We expect this can be a good stability of each discover efficiencies and create a greater expertise.” 

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

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

Pichai stated that the brand new coverage is only for cloud staff in the meanwhile, and added that the corporate is “giving groups freedom to experiment.” The cloud division makes up roughly 1 / 4 of the corporate’s total workforce.

Through 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 common meme stated, “Not each cost-cutting measure must be phrase mangled into sounding good for workers.”

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

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

“We must always all the time try to be as simple as attainable,” Pichai stated. “I believe it’s essential to know at our scale, just about all communication are public in nature. You’re chatting with the world and there are a lot of, many stakeholders and so at occasions, nuance is essential and phrases can have a cloth affect and I believe generally you see that mirrored in among the communications.”

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

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