Myles Udland Yahoo Finance
Bigger offices, fewer people, more clouds
This week represents the apex of first quarter earnings season with Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL), and Facebook (FB) all having reported results in the last two days.
Each of these businesses helps us think both narrow and broad about the state of the economy, the tech industry, and consumer behavior, among other things.
But a top of mind concern these companies have also helped shape is what the return to office life is both looking like right now and might look like in the future. And some commentary that stood out to us came from Google CFO Ruth Porat on the company’s Tuesday evening earnings call.
Asked about capital expenditures and anticipated investment intensity around personnel and facilities, Porat said, in part, “We’ve been very clear we do value bringing people together in the office, and we’re looking at a hybrid work-from-home, work-from-office model.”
But fewer people in offices less often doesn’t mean there will be either fewer offices or even smaller ones.
“We are looking at less density per employee,” Porat added. “So even with a hybrid work environment, we will continue to need [office] space, and so we’re continuing to build out our campuses and office facilities.”
Given that consensus expectations for the future of work have become centered around some kind of hybrid model, it’s not a total surprise to see Google thinking along these lines. A report from the World Economic Forum published earlier this week said 65% of those working remotely due to the pandemic would like to remain remote. These preferences are so firm that some 58% of workers working remotely said they’d find another job if required to return to an office with pre-COVID expectations.