Google announces desk-sharing plan for employees following layoffs.


Google said its reason for having employees share desks is ‘real estate efficiency’. The announcement that employees would go through a matching process was mocked by some of its staff as ‘corpspeak’ coming in the aftermath of the tech giant cutting 12,000 jobs.

Google is now asking its employees to share their workspaces.

The tech giant made the announcement after laying off thousands of employees in its global downsizing efforts.

“Most Googlers will now share a desk with one other Googler,” CNBC quoted the internal document as saying.

But what does that mean?

Let’s take a closer look:

According to CNBC, the company has said its reason for having employees share desks is “real estate efficiency.”

The document said employees would be coming to work on alternate days – Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday.

“Through the matching process, they will agree on a basic desk setup and establish norms with their desk partner and teams to ensure a positive experience in the new shared environment,” the document added.

According to Fortune, Google is implementing the changes in its five largest US locations – Washington, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sunnyvale.

One meme posted read: “Not every cost-cutting measure needs to be word mangled into sounding good for employees.”

“A simple ‘We are cutting office space to reduce costs’ would make leadership sound more believable.”

Insider quoted a Google spokesperson as saying: “Our data show Cloud Googlers value guaranteed in-person collaboration when they are in the office, as well as the option to work from home a few days each week.”

“With this feedback, we’ve developed our new rotational model, combining the best of pre-pandemic collaboration with the flexibility and focus we’ve all come to appreciate from remote work, while also allowing us to use our spaces more efficiently.”

Google in January announced it was laying off 12,000 workers, or about six per cent of its workforce with CEO Sundar Pichai informing staff about the cuts in an email that was also posted on the company’s news blog.

That was the company’s biggest-ever round of layoffs and adds to tens of thousands of other job losses recently announced by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook parent Meta and other tech companies as they tighten their belts amid a darkening outlook for the industry. Just this month, there have been at least 48,000 job cuts announced by major companies in the sector.

“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth,” Pichai wrote. “To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”

He said the layoffs reflect a “rigorous review” carried out by Google of its operations.

The jobs being eliminated “cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions,” Pichai said. He said he was “deeply sorry” for the layoffs.

Regulatory filings illustrate how Google’s workforce swelled during the pandemic, ballooning to nearly 187,000 people by late last year from 119,000 at the end of 2019.

Pichai said that Google, founded nearly a quarter of a century ago, was “bound to go through difficult economic cycles.”

“These are important moments to sharpen our focus, reengineer our cost base, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities,” he wrote. He called out the company’s investments in artificial intelligence as an area of opportunity.

There will be job cuts in the US and in other unspecified countries, according to Pichai’s letter.

Tech companies that “not long ago were the darlings of the stock market” have been forced to freeze hiring and cut jobs in preparation for an economic downturn, said a note from Victoria Scholar, an analyst with U.K.-based Interactive Investor.

“Digital spending is suffering, and ad revenues are falling with it,” she wrote.

With inputs from agencies

CNBC