- Google invented a new type of hot desk that remembers an employee's preferences.
- When a worker scans their badge, the desk will automatically adjust to the right height and tilt.
- The prototype desk is part of a broader overhaul of Google's offices, The New York Times reports.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
For Google employees, the future of work might be an intelligent desk that adjusts to your needs.
A new piece from The New York Times' Daisuke Wakabayashi dives into how Google is preparing for the future of work when employees begin returning to the office this September. Google's plan involves revamped ventilation, spaced-out desks, new ways for employees to meet both in-person and virtually - and a new type of hot desk.
The desk is designed for Google employees who no longer need a permanent desk at the company's Mountain View, California, headquarters. Those employees, who may come in a few days per week and require a temporary workspace, will scan their work badge on a pad attached to the desk. The desk will then automatically adjust to the correct height, the monitor will tilt to the employee's preferred angle, and the nearby temperature will adjust to the employee's preference.
Plus, a Nest Hub on the desk - a small display equipped with Google Assistant - will show the employee's family photos.
According to The Times, the desk is just a prototype at this point and not necessarily the standard throughout Google's headquarters.
Still, the prototype desk is just one example of how the office could change to better accommodate workers' new reality. A hybrid model of work where employees work from home on some days and come into the office on others has been touted as the future by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as executives at Salesforce and Zillow. Andy Jassy, who will take over as Amazon CEO in the third quarter, told CNBC last December that he predicts most people will adopt a hybrid work model and that he expects the future of work to be "hot offices."
"My suspicion is that a lot of these office buildings will start to evolve from being optimized for individual offices or cube space to being hot offices where you decide which day you're going to come in and then you reserve a desk," Jassy said.
But there are some drawbacks to that plan: On a grand scale, a hybrid situation could create a "two-class system" where those who come into the office more often are viewed as better employees; On a smaller scale, it could be an annoyance for workers who need to set up a desk to their liking each time they come into work or recalibrate the settings a colleague left behind.
Beyond desk set-ups, hot-desking can also become an IT nightmare, according to a blog post by SpaceIQ, a company that makes software to manage offices. At workplaces where employees need to connect to devices or network drives, constantly switching to a new desk can be disruptive - Google's solution could seemingly alleviate those issues via an internal system that remembers an employee's setup.
Regardless of the downsides, it seems like hot-desking and hybrid models are here to stay, even outside of the tech industry. Earlier this month, HSBC scrapped offices for its executives and told them to hot-desk instead. And at Bain & Company's Austin headquarters, consultants will be able to reserve a desk on days they're coming into the office.