Google eyes its own on-campus Hotel California in $99 'summer special' lure

Somebody walking on a path heading towards Google's Mountain View campus
(Image credit: Getty)

Big tech’s latest attempt to lure workers back into the office has entered the realm of the bizarre. Framed as a way to help staff ‘re-transition’ into hybrid work, Google is offering staff a discounted $99 per night rate at its Mountain View hotel, according to CNBC.


Taking up this offer would give staff “an extra hour of sleep” and “less friction” getting to the office. Sounds ideal, doesn't it? 

Not quite. This latest move borders on dystopian, and seems like a shallow attempt to pressure workers into conforming to Google’s rigid views on office attendance. 

Even if you were to ignore the obvious issue here, the $99 nightly rate for a hotel room to work, this actually equates to just below the median cost of an apartment in nearby areas. Furthermore, it could quite clearly isolate staff and further deteriorate their work-life balance. Working from home is one thing, working from a hotel on-site sounds like a living nightmare.

Eat, sleep, code, repeat

Google, along with other big tech firms hellbent on pushing workers back into the banal nine-to-five routine, has long positioned in-person attendance as key to fostering creativity, productivity, and improved well-being. This is largely borne from the buzz of being surrounded by your peers. 

In 2021, Google went so far as to warn remote and hybrid work could “harm company culture” and be to the detriment of both staff and the broader organization.

But this aspect of the creativity and productivity argument is voided if you coop people up and separate from their families on a campus akin to some bizarre military boot camp. Working from a hotel, on-site can’t possibly offer advantages over working from home, where staff are most comfortable.

Furthermore, Google, in its divine wisdom, could simply “remove the friction” of travel by allowing staff to work remotely on their terms. Remote working isn’t exclusive to the home, and workers around the world are choosing to work from alternative locations or hotdesk. 

My way or the highway

Since the onset of the pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid working, Google boasts an exhaustive track record of pushing for a return to the office. 


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Earlier this year, it revised its hybrid work practices and introduced a series of widely criticized policies that would see in-office attendance tracked by badge scanning at company sites. 

At the time, it was reported that metrics obtained on in-person attendance would be taken into account in performance reviews. Chief people officer Fiona Cicconi said the firm’s approach aimed to foster closer collaboration among staff, adding there’s “no substitute for coming together in person”. 

Combine badge tracking policies with an on-campus living environment, and Google has all the makings of its own contained Los Alamos-style workplace. 

Growing real estate woes

Of course, this entire debacle comes amid a period of real estate re-evaluation for Google and other businesses.

In February, the tech giant began asking employees at its cloud division to share desks at several sites across the US as part of a “real estate efficiency” drive. The firm asked staff to buddy up with colleagues and alternate shift patterns at several sites, including Kirkland, Washington, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Sunnyvale office in California.

Google may be concerned its extensive real estate portfolio isn’t being fully utilized, and is instead opting to dangle what it believes to be a highly enticing carrot. But the circumstances in which it’s presented this 'summer special' appear so nefarious that employees must now be questioning how far Google will go to ensure they can scan badges – all while trying to ignore HR emails on their upcoming appraisal session. 

Perhaps, if they’re lucky, staff can enjoy the “magic hallway conversations”, cited as a key motivator behind the policy revamp. But it’s far more likely they’ll be stuck in a perpetual loop of working and then returning to Google's own Hotel California. The work-life balance had a good run. 

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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