You are currently viewing With 1 sentence, Google CEO revealed the best reason to go back to the office I’ve heard yet

With 1 sentence, Google CEO revealed the best reason to go back to the office I’ve heard yet

Google CEO Sundar Pichai posted a blog post this morning to highlight the release of the company’s economic impact report. The report details things like the number of jobs Google creates, as well as the effect it’s having on small businesses through tools like Google Ads.

For example, Pichai says Google contributed “$617 billion to the economic activity of millions of American businesses, nonprofits, creators, developers, and publishers last year. , the Android app economy helped create nearly two million jobs last year, and YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 394,000 jobs in 2020.”

Such numbers can be difficult to fully grasp. What does it mean to provide “economic activity”? How do you count that?

I’m not saying that Google doesn’t help small businesses succeed – it may be the single most effective tool for reaching your customers that has ever been created. I’m just suggesting that companies like to release big numbers like this, even if it’s not always clear how they did the math.

There is one number in the report, however, which is very clear. Pichai says Google is spending $9.5 billion on offices and data centers this year.

Not only is it real money, but it’s also a little weird. With the current push for remote and hybrid working at big tech companies like Google, why would you invest so much money in buildings where you don’t expect people to show up for work?

Pichai admitted as much in his blog post:

“It may seem counterintuitive to increase our investments in physical offices even as we embrace greater flexibility in the way we work. Yet we believe it is more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that this will lead to better products, a higher quality of life for our employees and stronger communities.”

It turns out there are two reasons. The first is obvious: if you want people to come to the office, give them a place where they will want to work. It’s up to you to make working in the office more enjoyable than not working in the office. As Pichai said, investing in where your team works improves their “quality of life”. To that end, Google says it’s investing in new and existing offices.

The second reason may be less obvious at first, but it turns out to be the best reason I’ve heard to return to the office. “Google’s offices and data centers provide vital anchors to our local communities and help us contribute to their economies,” Pichai wrote.

Look, I totally agree that people should have the flexibility to work based on the needs of their position and their personal circumstances. If anything, the past two years have shown that a lot of the work we thought should be done in an office building, sitting in a cubicle, just doesn’t make it.

Millions of Americans have been productive working remotely, proving it’s not just a viable way of working, but in many cases the prefer way of working. Just because managers want people back in the office doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for the employees or the company, for that matter.

That said, there are plenty of reasonable arguments for bringing people together for at least part of their working week. Video conferencing, as we can all attest, is simply not a substitute for true physical human connection. Also, collaboration and communication happens differently when you’re face-to-face without a webcam or screen between you.

But Pichai points to another overlooked reason for returning to the office. The physical space occupied by your business is a “vital anchor” for your local community. This creates a connection that does not exist with a distributed team working in different places.

Plus, when your employees come into the office, they contribute to the communities where they work. They take public transport, stop for a coffee, have lunch at a restaurant or stop for a few errands before heading home.

All of these things add value to the community and businesses around you. It may be harder to count, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real or important. In fact, it might be one of the best reasons I’ve heard to bring people together.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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