Google’s head of Workspace explains its return-to-office push
Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: an interview with Google’s head of Workspace, why it’s a good time to be an executive recruiter and how inflation is impacting the talent market.
Google is heading back to the office
Monday was a big day for Google: the start of its three-days-in-office policy. The road back to the office has not been easy, with numerous pandemic-induced delays. The company has also faced pushback from employees who say remote-work requests have been granted unevenly. At a town hall, one employee questioned why workers are being required to go in while Google is making record profits.
A lot of preparation has gone into Google’s hybrid plan, beyond perks like free electric scooters to commute to the office (though sadly, no bidets). Javier Soltero, vice president of Google Workspace, has been especially involved. He’s had a “ringside seat” to work’s transformation over the past two years, within Google and among Google’s enterprise customers.
For a leader, making definitive statements about the solution to hybrid work is a terrible mistake, Soltero said.
- “I find that the conversation about where work is headed tends to be viewed through an often myopic perspective,” he said. People might declare that the key to hybrid work is fixing the video meeting. Or fully transitioning to real-time chat. Or scrapping the physical office altogether.
- This kind of thinking is dangerous, according to Soltero. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Flexibility and adaptability are key in making hybrid work. Even people within the same company have wildly different work preferences.
The Google Workspace division has a mix of fully remote and hybrid employees, Soltero said, adding that a “healthy” number of employees are eager to go back to the office, though he declined to share exact numbers. When you’re building for the hybrid work experience, you have to live it. “It is truly a walk-the-walk kind of approach,” Soltero said.
Soltero’s department focuses on the tech that helps people better collaborate at work. But at a certain point, bridging the remote to in-person gap is on us.
- “There’s always a chance that there are parts of the conversation that are missed as people are walking into a meeting room,” Soltero said. “There is, candidly, no technology solution to that problem.”
- Leaders should focus on the social contract, or norms, that exist in their company. Be deliberate about the way you run meetings, or the digital spaces where certain conversations take place. And make sure that all employees buy into it.
- “It is our responsibility as employees of any given company to apply those [expectations] and in some ways enlist ourselves,” he said.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next with this pandemic. Another COVID-19 wave may be coming. It’s possible Google will need to reevaluate its plans yet again, but Soltero isn’t too concerned about the possibility. “We actually proved that we were able to provide a sense of continuity,” he said, referring to March 2020. “The optimist in me says — as long as we know this isn't some giant switch that we're going to flip that's going to turn us into hybrid work professionals — that we will succeed.”— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)
On the calendar
How is tech setting and measuring climate goals?
Net zero. Carbon offsets. Scope 3 emissions. These are just some of the terms you’ll find in Big Tech’s climate plans. Understanding what they actually mean is vital to ensuring the industry is meeting its goals. Join us at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on April 19, when Protocol's Brian Kahn will talk with some of the people responsible for setting those goals and experts who are monitoring them to find out what tech companies are really doing. RSVP here.
Hard time to hire, good time to be a recruiter
It’s never been harder or more expensive to hire, and executive search firms are loving it. My colleague Allison Levitsky spoke to recruiters and tech execs about what it’s like right now for recruiting firms, which have companies waiting in line to even start a search. With record levels of M&A activity and VC money pouring into the tech industry, fast-growing startups can’t hire executives quickly enough. “It’s really unlike anything I’ve seen in the last 20 years,” one recruiter told Protocol.
A MESSAGE FROM WORKPLACE FROM META
100% of C-suite staff surveyed by Workplace by Meta said that frontline workers were a strategic priority for their business in 2022, but nearly two in three of them said that keeping their frontline staff, who bear the brunt of the stresses of the workplace most acutely, had only become a priority since the pandemic hit.
How to ClickUp
Angela Bunner jokes that as the oldest of four children, she was the “product manager” of her household. She has three younger brothers — two of them are twins 10 years her junior — and someone had to help keep them in line. Productivity spilled into her professional life when she started working on project management software at Oracle. Over the past decade, she’s noticed that a growing number of workers care about the organization tech used in their workplaces. “It's not just about the kind of nerdy project managers that are managing your enterprise portfolios,” Bunner said. “It’s about everybody in your organization being more productive.”
Bunner is now VP of Solutions at productivity platform ClickUp, working with customers on how to best leverage the app. Want to become a ClickUp power user? Here are some of Bunner’s best tips:
- Live in ClickUp. This is ClickUp’s main pitch: It’s an all-in-one platform. Communication, task management, important information storage, document collaboration — all of that lives in it.
- Standardize with templates. This has become essential for Bunner as ClickUp has grown. Templates have become a must for productivity platforms, as they save so much time. Bunner uses templates for onboarding checklists and other repetitive processes.
- Cut down meetings with ClickUp’s Clip feature. It functions like Loom or any other async video service. Bunner will often record a short clip explaining something and post it directly in a task.
- Customize your work view. ClickUp allows you to visualize your work in Dashboards. You can add widgets within a dashboard that track different projects or teams. Bunner has three main Widgets in her dashboard that show her how many tasks are left to complete. She also built one that filters out “red” accounts: In this case, customers who need attention.
- Use your dashboard to see where you spend your time. By tracking the amount of time spent on certain tasks, you learn valuable lessons about your personal priorities and your organization’s priorities. Bunner said ClickUp employees always tag tasks with the type of work they’re doing: demo product, research, client meetings.
- Make it your own. To truly master the platform and make it work for you, ClickUp integrates with calendars, Slack, Teams, Figma, Chrome, Zoom and more.
Inflation is making people postpone job changes
People are worried about rising inflation and how that impacts their decisions with regards to major life events, according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans from Edelman Data and Intelligence.
- 13% of retirement-aged Americans are postponing or reconsidering their plans to retire.
- 64% think the Fed should be taking a “more aggressive approach” toward dealing with inflation.
- 19% have postponed or canceled plans to look for a better-paying job because of rising inflation, and that figure is higher for Gen Z (32%) and millennial (30%) workers.
Assistive technology and ed tech company Texthelp has appointed Cathy Donnelly as chief people officer. Previously, Donnelly was senior director of Talent at Liberty IT.
Social ecommerce company DealShare has appointed Santana Ramakrishnan as chief human resources officer. Previously, she was head of Human Resources at Udaan.
More stories from us
These are the most powerful people in Big Tech’s climate push. How successful they can be depends on factors outside of their control.
Google to workers: Here's a free scooter to return to the office.
A MESSAGE FROM WORKPLACE FROM META
Businesses are starting to turn to workplace communication tools. Such tools enable frontline workers to feel more connected to the rest of their business, to raise concerns and to provide feedback on potential pain points or points of improvement. By bridging that divide, companies can unlock new savings and efficiencies, and build a business that can last for the long run.
Around the internet
A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.
Derek Thompson tries to explain the “triple peak” workday.
Tech companies are calling people back. Their employees are questioning why it’s necessary.
Activision Blizzard’s vaccine mandate is over, and its employees are walking out.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day, see you Thursday.