Google Wants A Cubicle Comeback

Google Wants A Cubicle Comeback
Paul Allison, CFA

9 months ago2 mins

Mentioned in story

What’s going on here?

Google didn’t mince words on Wednesday, telling workers to swap remote Meets for stiff, hard office seats.

What does this mean?

Google spends a lot of money glitzing up its super-slick offices, even developing a fresh London HQ during the pandemic, but plenty of workers still prefer less glamorous home comforts like the freedom to do laundry at midday. Well, most of Google’s staff have now been forcibly told to work from the office at least three days a week. And instead of subtle encouragement like free snacks or fancy hand creams in the bathrooms, employees will be sent reminders if they’re consistently absent and assessed on presence during performance reviews. There’s no tricking the system either: Google’s using badge data to track which workers are physically clocking in.

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Set the alarm.

A recent Bloomberg survey showed that one in two financial professionals would quit if they had to spend more time in the office. Google’s whizz-kids probably feel the same way, but an exodus wouldn’t necessarily be the worst outcome. See, the firm’s under pressure to slim costs, so if switching working from bed for a morning commute’s too much of a stretch for some, Google probably won’t mind saying sayonara over a Zoom – or, uh, Google Meets.

Bloomberg work from home survey

The bigger picture: Go go, Googlers.

Google’s sudden desire for camaraderie could be down to a number of factors, not least the joy of an after-work pint. But the fact the firm seems to be falling behind in the artificial intelligence race may well have sparked the move, especially because Google proudly states that its best creations were conceived by workers butting heads together in a real-life primary-colored meeting room. Investors will be watching either way, whether it’s for a fresh digital move or more pink slips.

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