Is Google's fixation on the office a weakness?

2013-02-20

It shouldn't really come as any surprise that Google doesn't actively encourage working from home (aka 'telecommuting' or the 'digital workplace'):

Google believes working at home, or "teleworking", is not the best environment for ideas to flourish, according to its chief financial officer Patrick Pichette…

…'How many people telecommute at Google?' ” Mr Pichette said at a talk in Sydney on Monday. "And our answer is: 'As few as possible'.

"It's somewhat counterintuitive. People think, 'Well, because you're at Google you can work from anywhere.' Yes, you can work from anywhere, but many just commute to offices . . . Working from the office is really important."

Google invests a lot in their work environment and with revenue of US$50 billion in 2012 that's something they can afford to do.

But its a stretch to assume that what is good for Google is good or even necessary for everyone else. As I've pointed out, the future of work isn't necessarily just about people working from home, but about supporting new styles of work and working - which is ironic, since Google's CFO was presenting at Fishburners, a co-working space in Sydney.

We might also wonder if Google's fixation on a traditional workplace model might also be limiting their ability to create apps fit for the future workplace? I've checked Google+ for the enterprise and found it lacking.

Tools that support telework should also support co-locators alike in the future workplace.

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