Sundar Pichai has sent an email to their employees telling them about the new hybrid way of working the company will embrace.
During this virtual coffee chat, Luis discusses how the employees feel is a crucial aspect for companies to decide what type of working structure is best. A lot of companies are making this decision only taking into account managerial aspects when employees are the ones who know what’s the best way to work!
Of course, some jobs can’t be done from home, but let’s be honest, almost all Google positions can be done remotely.
Read the full post and let us know what you think!
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of Virtual Coffee Chat with Luis. Today, we’re going to talk about a hybrid approach to work, with some coffee. A bit hot.
Anyway, this is my beverage of choice. It’s a casual Friday, so I’m not my usual dapper self. And I’m going to talk a bit about The Hybrid Approach to Work. That’s the title of the blog post/email that Sundar Pichai (I hope I’m saying his name correctly), the CEO of Google and Alphabet, sent last week, basically detailing about their new approach to remote work. And I don’t want to be too hard on Google, because, well, I do have friends there. I even have family there. I think most people do, because they employ something like 20% of the world.
But I didn’t particularly enjoy the email, and let me tell you why. You can look it up, but the gist of it is something like, “We know you enjoy working remotely, so we’re going to clamp down on it and drip-feed it to you whenever we think it’s optimal, and if you behave.” That’s the gist of it. Sure, you can be a bit more generous than I just was, maybe, possibly, but not too much more generous. It sounded all very corporate-speech. It dripped with the kind of optionality and flexibility that would be expected of a well-read tyrant with an iron fist. I mean, if I worked at Google, I’d be worried. Well, if I worked at Google and enjoyed working remotely, which I do.
So my main problem … Let me stop badmouthing the email and actually get into the brunt of my concern here, is that my main problem with the email is that it feels like the onus of the decision of where to work is put almost squarely on managers and not on the employee. This may sound simple, and even common sense to some of you. So like, “Hey, I’d like to work remotely. I think I can perform better working remotely.” And then the answer is, “Well, your manager will decide if the team can afford to have you working remotely, if it makes sense for the team.” And obviously, the team is important. When we’re doing it … At Think Remote, when we’re taking our individual arrangements into consideration, work hours, times processes, et cetera, obviously those decisions are team-centric.
But I would say, I would argue, that the person who knows what’s the optimal performance solution for their work is the employee themselves. Then you can have a back-and-forth on it, but it seems to me that the onus of figuring out whether or not remote work will be beneficial should actually be done at an employee level, rather than at the team level. Because let’s face it: Google has a huge operation. Some of their departments … They have a full-on hardware department, where they build stuff. You probably need people there. They operate distribution centers in some countries. So yeah, Montel, you can make everyone be replaced by robots or drones, I guess. You still need people there.
But 90% of the work that’s done in Google doesn’t require presence, and saying that it does, saying the manager … That really just means that the manager gets to decide, based on their own impression of remote work and the value it brings. It’s a very subjective decision, rather than a decision based on facts and figures.
So that’s kind of disappointing, especially for my friends and family that work at Google, that I wish they have the best conditions to do their work. I’m sure it’ll still be a pretty nice company to work in, with lots of rewards and et cetera. I am not saying that everyone at Google should just up and quit, but it definitely feels less exciting. I wasn’t expecting a whole-hearted embrace of remote work, but I was expecting a bit more freedom to be given to their employees, saying, “You know what? You can work wherever you want, unless your job actually requires physical presence, in a practical, technical specification. And apart from that, we’ll organize. Management will reshuffle, reorganize, and where we deem that physical presence is necessary, we’ll put the people that actually want to work physically. And elsewhere, everyone will work remotely.”
This makes a lot more sense to me, but hey, what do I know? I’m not the head of a multi-billion-dollar company, so maybe I’m out of line here. I just thought it wasn’t … Just from a PR point of view, even, it seemed to be a very, very badly-written email. It did seem to undervalue the opinion of their employees.
But anyway, what’s your opinion? You can look at the email. You can look at the blog post and let me know what you think. Say so in the comments. Also, if you enjoyed, please share, like, subscribe.
This was Virtual Coffee Chat with Luis for Think Remote. Visit thinkremote.com for the best latest news about remote work and a load of insights and guides. See you tomorrow.