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Google CEO Sundar Pichai defends desk sharing by employees

by Ana Lopez
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At a recent company-wide meeting, Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the company’s new employee desk sharing policy. According to Pichai, the company strives for efficiency and cost-effectiveness and wants to make good use of the available resources.

CNBC obtained audio from the meeting where Pichai said Google’s offices are practically empty. “By the way, there are people,” said the CEO, “who routinely complain that they come in and there are lots of empty desks, and it feels like a ghost town — it’s just not a fun experience.”

Desk sharing is part of a downsizing effort called Cloud Office Evolution. CNBC reported at CLOE in February, detailing Google’s plans to ask Cloud employees and partners to share desks in the division’s largest offices.

During the meeting, Pichai noted that many employees only come to the office two days a week, which is an inefficient use of current space. He also emphasized that the company should manage financial resources wisely and be careful how it thinks about real estate, as Google is expensive (and expansive) characteristics.

At the same meeting where Pichai discussed desk sharing, Anas Osman, Google Cloud’s vice president of strategy and operations, reported that about a third of employees were in the office up to four days a week. In addition, employees said they experienced markedly improved collaboration when assigned office days, even accounting for shared desk rotations.

Responding to comments at the meeting from concerned employees about various issues, including how Google communicated its desk-sharing policy to the company as a whole, Pichai acknowledged the sentiment and said the feedback was valid.

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