Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat
CAFRINI FACTORY | AFP | Getty Images
Google is asking employees and cloud partners to share their desktops and share days with their desktop mates starting next quarter, citing “real estate efficiencies,” CNBC has learned.
The new desk-sharing model will apply to Google Cloud’s five largest US offices — Kirkland, Washington; New York; San Francisco; Seattle and Sunnyvale, Calif. — and it’s happening so the company “can continue to invest in the growth of the cloud,” according to an internal FAQ recently shared with cloud employees and seen by CNBC. As a result, some buildings will be released, the document notes.
“Most Googlers will now share a desk with one other Googler,” the internal document says, noting that they expect employees to come in on a different day so they don’t sit at the same desk on the same day. “During the mapping process, they will agree on a baseline desktop setup and establish norms with their desktop partner and teams to ensure a positive experience in the new shared environment.”
“Overflow space” will be used for anyone arriving on non-assigned days.
Internally, management has dubbed the new seating arrangement “Cloud Office Evolution,” or “CLOE,” which it describes as “combining the best of pre-pandemic collaboration with the flexibility” of hybrid working. The new workspace plan is not a temporary pilot, the document notes. “Ultimately it will lead to a more efficient use of our space.”
Google also used its internal data on the patterns of employees returning to the office to inform the decision, according to the FAQ. In addition to slower office reopenings, the company slowed hiring and laid off 11,000 employees in January.
Memes have started appearing on the company’s meme platform Memegen mocking the changes – specifically targeting the “body language” management is using to advertise the new table layout, which they say is a cost-cutting measure.
“Not every cost-cutting measure has to be twisted to sound good to employees,” read one popular meme featuring a photo of a bird with its hand on its head. “Simply saying ‘We’re downsizing office space to reduce costs’ will make management sound more believable.”
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The move comes as Google shrinks its real estate footprint amid broader cost-cutting. However, he has not yet specified the regions or buildings he plans to cut.
In its Q4 2022 earnings report, Google executives said they planned to incur costs of about $500 million related to the reduction of global office space in Q1, and warned that other real estate costs are possible going forward. Earlier this month, SFGate reported that the company was ceasing leases for “gray vacant space” in the San Francisco Bay Area, the region where its headquarters are located.
A cloud block that is more than a quarter of a c Googlefull-time workforce, is one of the company’s fastest-growing but unprofitable areas.
In the fourth quarter, Google Cloud brought in $7.32 billion, up 32% year-over-year, well above the company’s overall growth rate of less than 10%. But that revenue figure was less than Wall Street had expected, and the cloud business is still losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter — $480 million in Q4, though that’s nearly half the loss a year earlier.
Overall, however, Google earned $13.62 billion in net income for the quarter and $59.97 billion for the full year of 2022. Both were significant drops from 2021.
welcome to the ‘area’
Under the new arrangement, teams of 200 to 300 employees “and partners” will be organized into “neighborhoods,” which may also include “partner teams that are part of other organizations such as Finance, HR Operations, etc. d.”, read the FAQ. Each neighborhood will have a vice president or director who will be responsible for allocating space within the neighborhood.
Employees tend to alternate the days they are in the office, either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. They will work two days a week, and the company requires employees to come in three days a week.
“Area managers are encouraged to set norms with their teams around the table, ensuring that pairs of Googlers talk about how they will or won’t decorate the space, keep personal items, and expectations in order.”
Additionally, the FAQ stated that employees with computer workstations would no longer have those workstations directly under their desks, but would instead have to look up their location in a database or file a trouble ticket. Over time, employees are expected to migrate to CloudTop, a virtual desktop tool that has so far been limited to Google employees.
The FAQ says there will also be a limited number of meeting rooms, noting that meeting rooms are “already hard to book.” Employees will be discouraged from “resting” in the conference room, it added.
For Covid-19, desks will be disinfected daily and staff will be notified if someone in their area tests positive and will report it to Google.