Google workers, already rattled by the largest layoff in the search giant’s history, now face another indignity as the company ends some of its leases on unused office space: desk-sharing.
The move affects employees who work for Google Cloud, the Alphabet-owned unit’s data storage product, at the company’s five largest offices in Kirkland, Washington; New York City; Seattle; San Francisco; and Sunnyale, California. Workers will share their desks with fellow colleagues, the company confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch Thursday.
Googlers are permitted to work from home a few days each week, so many desks sit empty when only a fraction of staffers are doing their jobs from the company’s offices. The move is meant to improve “real estate efficiency,” Google spokesperson Ryan Lamont told CBS MoneyWatch.
Lamont added that the company is ending leases on an unspecified number of unoccupied spaces and will continue to consolidate its real estate footprint.
Google is working to ensure its real estate investments are aligned with its needs in the era of hybrid work. Savings in real estate costs will also allow Google to invest in the Cloud divisions growth.
Workers will be matched with a partner with whom they will share a workspace. Pairs of workers are expected to report to the office on alternate days to ensure that a desk is free, with employees asked to work from their shared spaces at least two days a week.
Google said it is implementing the change based on feedback from employees.
“Since returning to the office, we’ve run pilots and conducted surveys with Cloud employees to explore different hybrid work models and help shape the best experience,” Google said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
It added that Googlers who work for the Cloud division “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.” Google said its new “rotational model” enhances the company’s approach to hybrid work, while also allowing it to use its spaces more efficiently.
In January, Google said it would slash 12,000 jobs, or roughly 6% of Alphabet’s workforce, amid widespread tech industry layoffs.
Google Cloud, which is not yet profitable, generated $7.3 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022, up from $5.54 billion in 2021. Its operating loss for the quarter was $480 million.
Company executives also said Google expects to incur costs of roughly $500 million related to shrinking its real estate footprint.
“We have significant work underway to improve all aspects of our cost structure, in support of our investments in our highest growth priorities to deliver long-term, profitable growth,” said Alphabet and Google CFO Ruth Porat.