Google is offering an on-campus hotel ‘special’ to help lure workers back to the office

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai
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Google is hoping to lure workers back to the office with a new on-site hotel special, but some workers aren’t convinced it’s a good deal.

The company said full-time employees can book a room at an on-campus hotel in Mountain View for $99 a night in what it’s deeming a “Summer Special,” according to materials viewed by CNBC. The description states that the special will run through Sept. 30 in hopes it’ll “make it easier for Googlers to transition to the hybrid workplace.”

Since the promotion is for unapproved business travel, the company will not reimburse their stays, but will require employees to use their personal credit cards, the special’s description states.

“Just imagine no commute to the office in the morning and instead, you could have an extra hour of sleep and less friction,” the description reads. “Next, you could walk out of your room and quickly grab a delicious breakfast or get a workout in before work starts.”

The ad goes on to say that after the work day ends, “you could enjoy a quiet evening on top of the rooftop deck or take in one of the fun local activities.”

The Google-owned hotel is situated on a newer campus in Mountain View, California, that it opened last year. The 42-acre campus is adjacent to NASA’s Ames Research Center and has capacity to house 4,000 employees working on its ads products, the company said upon its opening.

The San Francisco Bay Area has some of the highest real estate costs due in part to limited housing supply from decades-old zoning restrictions and elevated demand, most of which comes from high-paying tech workers and executives working in the surrounding tech industry. The city of Mountain View is especially short on housing and contains large swaths of corporate offices — many of which are owned or leased by Google.

A Google spokesperson noted that the company regularly runs specials for employees to take advantage of the company’s spaces and amenities.

‘Where I live is much better’

Some employees have commented on the hotel deal in internal discussion forums.

One highly rated meme showed movie clips that included a scene in the movie “Mean Girls,” where the main character played by Lindsey Lohan says “No, thank you.”

“Now I can give some of my pay back to Google,” another highly rated meme read.

Another meme joked that living on campus for the summer could disrupt “work-life balance.”

At $99 a night, the hotel would amount to roughly $3,000 a month, employees pointed out in internal discussions viewed by CNBC.

One employee pointed out that hotel amenities were not to be ignored. “I pay more and get a lot less in total for my apartment,” wrote one employee in a discussion thread. “Though admittedly where I live is much better.”

Another thought it was still too expensive. “If it was around $60 a night, that could be a fine-ish alternative to apartments, but $99? No thanks.”

“I would’ve totally done it, had it fit a certain profile: $3k rent all-in, fully-furnished, unlimited meals, paid utilities, plus housekeeping/cleaning every day,” another employee wrote.

Another hypothesized the move could be a way to reduce vacancy at the hotel after Google cut corporate travel budgets.

Google began bringing most employees back to physical offices three days a week last year, following several changes in its return-to-office plans that were complicated by spikes in Covid infection rates. However, attendance had been sparse in the months that followed mandatory RTO as workers pushed back, citing high housing costs near offices and higher productivity while working remotely, which corresponded with record profits for the company.

In June, the company became stricter, announcing new enforcements that included using office attendance in performance reviews and tracking badge data. The company’s HR chief even asked already approved remote workers to reconsider their status and rejoin their colleagues in office.

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