Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) prides itself on its company culture. This tech giant offers free food, nap pods, video game areas, and indoor playground-like slides instead of stairs in its Mountain View office, called the Googleplex. Sounds more like a daycare than an office, and that's the point. Google's message is that it takes care of its staff, or what Google calls its "Googlers."
The Google company culture requires that people work at the main headquarters or one of its other corporate offices, whether their job can be done at home or not. But can Google persist with this policy post-pandemic when even non-tech workers are working from home? Let's find out how Google is handling this.
Google's original return-to-work plan
Like all Silicon Valley tech companies with huge headquarters filled with employee perks, Google wants its employees back in the office. But it needs to get them back on a voluntary basis, at least at first.
The Google plan originally called for workers who were enjoying their pandemic work setups to return to the office by September. There's a possibility for the return requiring being in the office only three days a week, but that's only if Google decides that sort of flexibility works out.
This return to the office requirement could cause some difficulty, however, for the many Googlers who left the Silicon Valley area for cities more to their liking, such as Nashville, Austin, Denver, and Miami.
The revised plan
Google workers now get to choose whether they want to return to the main office, work from a Google office in another city, or work from an office anywhere they like. (The last option applies only if an employee's position at Google allows for totally remote work.)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai thinks, after the new options Google is offering, that 60% of staff will return to the office they worked at before COVID-19, 20% will work from a different Google office, and 20% will work from home. The revised Google plan is still set to take effect on September 1.
Whatever Pichai decides for his staff is a big decision that affects a lot of people. Google employs about 140,000 people worldwide and has offices in about 170 cities in 60 countries.
The importance of company culture for Google
One of Google's secret sauces for getting such great productivity and creativity from staff has been the company culture it created. It's part of Google's brand. Google has even won multiple awards for best company culture.
But Google didn't just come upon all this greatness by accident. It's planned, down to how long is an optimal wait time to stand in line for lunch. And here's the answer, in case you didn't know: three to four minutes. Any longer, and the employee feels like time's being wasted. Any shorter and there won't be enough time to strike up a conversation with a fellow Googler, and office relationships are an important way of getting people to stay with Google.
Company perks benefit the employee; of that there's no doubt. But all those perks are really designed so that Google will get the most mileage out of its staff by having employees want to put in long hours, sometimes seven days a week. Employees never need to leave, really. And ideally, they won't want to leave Google with all those perks, namely free meals, in-house health checks, haircuts, dry cleaning services, massages, gyms, pools, foosball, table tennis, and of course, the napping spots and video game areas. Google, like the "Hotel California," wants its employees to check in and never leave.
The Millionacres bottom line
The reason Google made such an attractive company culture is understandable: The better the experience for staff, the more devoted the employee. It remains to be seen whether Pichai's prediction on how many workers will return to the corporate office is accurate. (It probably is.) But what if a larger percentage of workers do stay home? Will that have an effect on the Google business model? This is an interesting one for real estate investors to watch.