One in five Googlers will be permanently working from home once the pandemic abates but for the majority it seems free meals in staff canteens, guest celebrity speaker appearances, resident gyms and massage therapy are irresistible lures.
A pre-Christmas directive from the Chocolate Factory was for the majority of employees to work from home until September, with a hybrid model being tested that involves a mix of office-based and remote working.
Now Sundar Pichai, CEO at Google and parent company Alphabet, has provided a written update to explain how he thinks the set-up will work, saying that in areas where the organisation has opened up offices on a “voluntary capacity”, around 60 per cent of staff has chosen to “come back”.
“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,” he said.
Who hasn’t done that? At El Reg, we can attest to the power of playing competitive sports for mental gymnastics, whether that be mulling the future of IBM when playing snakes and ladders or team synchronised swimming to ensure editors and reporters are all on the same page regarding hot topics.
“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. Yet many of us would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple of days a week, spending time in another city for part of the year, or even moving there permanently.”
With this in mind, Google’s Real Estate Workplace Services (REWS) team spent time over the last year “reimagining a hybrid workplace” to “help us collaborate effectively across many work environments”. This includes testing out “multi-purpose offices and private workspaces”.
Heads of product areas and functions are due to give their teams better "visibility" of the options by mid-June but in essence they can be boiled down to three areas: a hybrid week spending three days in the office surfing the corporate shag pile and two “wherever they work best”; more locations globally from where to work; and applying to work remotely all week.
“Taken together these changes will result in a workforce where around 60 per cent of Googlers are coming together in the office a few days a week, another 20 per cent are working in new office locations and 20 per cent are working from home,” the CEO said.
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Google said it will allow staffers to work from a location other than their main office for four weeks a year, depending on manager approval. It will offer “focus hours” to limit internal meetings when staff need to focus on projects and “reset days” to help workers "recharge".
Pinchai signed off by saying “the future of work is flexibility. The changes above are a starting point to help us do our very best work and have fun doing it.”
Reg readers have already voted with their feet, saying that two days days a week in the office will more than suffice. Dell reckons the majority of its workforce won’t be returning to the office permanently, as does Fujitsu. There are exceptions, including Workday. ®