Google launches $99 a night Hotel Mountain View for hybrid workers

And pandemic video conferencing poster child Zoom ushers staff back into the office for two days a week

Google is pitching another strategy to convince Googlers to return to the office, specifically the campus at Mountain View HQ: offer them a night in an on-site hotel for $99 where they can simply crawl to their desk the following day.

A three-day hybrid week was initiated by the company last year, yet employees aren't returning to the office in the numbers that Google seemingly wants. Google told staff in June there was "no substitute for coming together in person" and threatened to police the situation more vigorously.

This involves tracking the office badges of staff at intervals in order to log attendance, and using days in the office as a metric in performance reviews. Should any resist, they can expect a call from HR to outline the next steps, it said.

Now, according to CNBC, the company has launched a "Summer Special" until the end of September that takes it into competition with others local hoteliers. The initiative is designed to "make it easier for Google to transition to the hybrid workplace," Google says in an ad to staff.

"Just imagine no commute to the office in the morning and instead, you could have an extra hour of sleep and less friction," it adds. "Next, you could walk out of your room and quickly grab a delicious breakfast or get a workout in before work starts."

At the other end of the day, "you could enjoy a quiet evening on top of the rooftop deck or take in one of the fun local activities."

Not everyone was impressed by the offer, with one staffer pointing out on an internal forum: "Now I can give some of my pay back to Google," and another quipped "work-life balance." It seems the $99 per night price is too much for others.

Of course, workers can do all the things that Google suggests above from the comfort of their own home, and many do. This is the challenge that Google and other peers face in the drive to up in-person work. The company has previously said its offices had become like ghost towns with too few people traveling in from home, and it was a bad experience for those that did.

Amazon recalled 300,000 corporate workers back to the office in February and is also policing this more routinely. Meta, Dell, Salesforce, and more also said they see the value of employees operating in closer physical proximity.

Over the weekend another name joined that list: Zoom has told employees it wants to see them in the office for two days a week. That's right – the pandemic poster child for video conferencing is making moves too, expecting those who live within 50 miles (80.4km) of an office to commute.

"We believe that a structured hybrid approach – meaning a set number of days employees that live near an office need to be onsite – is most effective for Zoom. As a company, we are in a better position to use our own technologies, continue to innovate, and support our global customers.

"We'll continue to leverage the entire Zoom platform to keep our employees and dispersed teams connected and working efficiently."

So there we have it, the dichotomy in the world of work where the higher-ups are trying to not-so-gently reintroduce their staff to the notion of spending eight hours in-person again, and some staff are resisting. ®

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