After multiple delays thanks to COVID, Google employees are expected to start heading back to the office this week. And while the company already provides shuttle service to its employees that need to get to the office, The Verge reports that Google appears to think e-scooters will get people hyped about coming back into the office.
Google has partnered with portable e-scooter startup Unagi to give out free scooters to Google employees. Unagi offers a foldable electric scooter, the Model One, that weighs just over 26 pounds and can go 15.5 miles on a charge. Unagi CEO David Hyman said the company is just trying to help get Google’s employees back in the office:
They know there’s apprehension amongst employees. People got really accustomed to working from home. And they’re just trying to do everything they can to improve the experience of coming back.
The partnership with Google works out on two fronts: Google gets an incentive it thinks will get butts back into office chairs; Unagi gets a huge corporate partner to roll out its launch program called “Ride Scoot.” This will see Google sign employees up for a subscription to the Model One. Yes, there’s a subscription. There are actually three ways you can get a Model One: You can purchase the scooter from them outright for $990 or you can subscribe to it in a $49 monthly subscription or a $39 annual option. Google will then reimburse employees for the cost of the subscription.
There’s a catch to that though, because of course there is.
Employees must also use the scooter for at least nine commutes per month to get fully reimbursed for their monthly subscription. (Google plans on using the honor system and won’t be tracking employees’ scooter usage.) In addition to Google’s main headquarters in Mountain View, other eligible locations include Seattle, Kirkland, Irvine, Sunnyvale, Playa Vista, Austin, and New York City.
Google will also be working with Unagi to set up booths at its office in case other employees want to sign up. Hyman was quoted as saying he thinks “it’s a great office perk.” I think it’s a great commuter idea period. An e-scooter you can subscribe to that costs less than most people’s phone bills? I’d sign up if I needed to.
But Google isn’t reading the room. If company officials think a free e-scooter will make people want to work in the office again when just 17 percent of workers say they don’t want to go back into the office, this really won’t work out the way they think it will.