Google CEO doubles down on controversial desk-sharing office plan

Office workers
(Image credit: Image Credit: Cadeau Maestro / Pexels)

Members of Google’s management team, including CEO Sundar Pichai, have defended a recent decision to introduce desk-sharing rotas in the company’s Cloud arm.

Google Cloud workers in Kirkland, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sunnyvale were recently asked to help the company save on real estate in a move that Google is calling its Cloud Office Evolution (CLOE).

Naturally, many affected workers became vocal about this change, which was addressed by Pichai in a recent all-hands meeting, the audio of which was shared with CNBC.

Google Cloud desk sharing

In response to employee criticism, Pichai said:

“There are people, by the way, who routinely complain that they come in and there are big swaths of empty desks and it feels like it’s a ghost town — it’s just not a nice experience.”

Pichai continued to explain that the company has expensive real estate, and that careful consideration should be taken toward its usage.

Anas Osman, Google Cloud VP of Strategy & Operations, also spoke at the company meeting, claiming that “1-to-1 desks… were utilized roughly 35% of the time at four days or more”.

Osman also noted that some workers report feeling more productive in the collaborative environment harnessed by desk sharing and hybrid working rotas.

Another criticism that Google faced amid the change was its indirect way of handling negative issues within the organization. One meme on the company’s Memegen platform read: “Not every cost-cutting measure needs to be word mangled into sounding good for employees.”

Despite holding his ground with regard to hot-desking, Pichai agreed with staff that the company should “strive to be as straightforward as possible”, and that this type of criticism was entirely “valid”.

Nonetheless, with heels dug into the ground, it seems that Google Cloud workers will continue to be affected by CLOE. Though unconfirmed, if successful it could be a movement mirrored in other parts of the company or even wider.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!