When Google employees returned to their mostly empty offices this month, they were told to relax. Office time should be “not only productive, but fun.” Explore the place a bit. Don’t book consecutive meetings.
In addition, do not forget to attend the private performance of Lizzo, one of the hottest pop stars in the land of fog. If that weren’t enough, the company is also planning “pop-up events” that will showcase “every Google’s favorite duo: food and junk food.”
But Googlers in Boulder, Colo., were still reminded of what they gave up when the company gave them mouse pads with a picture of a sad cat. Underneath the pet is a plea: “You’re not going to join the RTO, are you?”
RTO, which means back to the office, is an acronym born out of the pandemic. It is a recognition of how Covid-19 has forced many companies to abandon office buildings and empty rooms. The pandemic has proven that working in an office doesn’t necessarily equal greater productivity, and some companies continue to thrive without face-to-face meetings.
Now, after two years of video conferencing and Slack chat, many companies are eager to get employees back to their desks. However, employees may not be eager to get back to work in the morning, shared bathrooms, and non-athletic daywear.
So tech companies with money to burn and offices to fill are running an interesting race, even as they make it clear that in many cases getting back into the office – at least a few days a week – is a must.
Karen Weise contribution report.