Google is gearing up to bring its employees back to the office this week, and as an added bonus, it’s offering them free electric scooters to ease the transition.
The tech giant has teamed up with e-scooter maker Unagi to launch a new program called “Ride Scoot,” in which most of Google’s US-based employees can pay the full cost of a monthly subscription to Unagi’s stylish Model One scooter. get back. The Model One, which retails for $990, is a lightweight, twin-motor scooter with a top speed of 20 mph and a range of 25 miles.
Unagi founder and CEO David Hyman said the intent was to help Google employees get to work, or even the nearest bus stop. (Google offers its employees in Silicon Valley a free shuttle bus service.)
“They know there is concern among the workers,” Hyman said. “People really got used to working from home. And they’re just trying to do everything they can to improve the return experience.” (A Google spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.)
Two years after the pandemic has turned work patterns upside down, employers are doubling down on office real estate, putting them in conflict with a workforce that has become accustomed to working from home. Google has spent billions over the pandemic to expand its footprint, a sign that it is optimistic about employees eventually returning to work. And just in case friction arises, Google has shown that it is willing to spend money on perks to lure employees back.
Google has landed on free scooters as a possible incentive and has found a willing partner in Unagi. In addition to raising more than $10 million in venture capital funding last year, the Oakland-based company also launched subscription as an alternative to ownership. For $49 a month, customers in select cities can have one of Unagi’s Model Ones delivered to their doorstep. There is also a $50 registration fee, but maintenance and insurance against theft or damage to the scooter are included in the monthly fee.
However, Unagi won’t just hand out free scooters to every Google employee. Unagi plans to set up booths at several Google offices to enroll employees in a monthly scooter subscription at the discounted rate of $44.10 per month, plus the $50 registration fee — the total of which will be fully refunded by Google . Scooter subscriptions will also be added to Google’s internal employee portal as a transportation option. And Google and Unagi are organizing demo days at various office locations where employees can try out the Model One.
Employees must also use the scooter at least nine times a month to receive full reimbursement for their monthly subscription. (Google plans to use the honor system and will not track employee scooter usage.) In addition to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, other eligible locations include Seattle, Kirkland, Irvine, Sunnyvale, Playa Vista, Austin, and New York City.
Hyman said Unagi has signed deals with other major employers, including Salesforce, to add electric scooters as a potential transportation benefit for employees, either as compensation or at a discounted rate. He also works with a number of hotels and residences to place Unagi’s scooters in the lobby for customers.
“We hope other companies follow suit,” Hyman said. “We think it’s a great extra for the office.”