As one of the largest technology companies in the world, Mountainview, California based Google employs more than 60,000 people in the United States. The company has become a highly desired place to work based on its revolutionary employee policies and the on-campus perks offered at its headquarters. However, the company is now struggling to protect one of those perks, as hundreds of the free bikes available for employee use, which they call “Gbikes”, have gone missing.
According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, the company maintains about 1,100 bikes on campus, but over the last couple weeks anywhere from 100 to 250 of them have gone missing each week. Some of the bikes have been recovered around town; being found in neighborhoods, at schools, and in local parks.
The trouble is that the bikes seem to be being taken by people around town, who view them as fair game for anyone’s use. Many Mountainview residents admit to using the bikes but feel as if they are only borrowing them, not stealing.
Google does not agree. They have begun to take measures to prevent the bikes from being taken by anyone who is not an employee. The company has begun installing GPS tracking units on every bicycle and says that they are developing a means to lock and unlock the bikes using an app that will only be made available to employees.
They feel these measures are necessary because the missing bikes have begun to cost them a lot of money. The local police will no longer get involved in tracking the bikes or trying to find the culprits due to the large number of employees based at the headquarters and the rate at which they have gone missing. Their regular staff has been unsuccessful in trying to prevent the public from taking them thus far.
The company says that it has had to hire dedicated contractors to search the area for the abandon bikes, but they have only been able to recover around 70% each week. Since installing the GPS units, Google has reported their Gbikes being taken as far as Mexico and Alaska.
The company has previously been hesitant to implement strict security measures in order to prevent unnecessary inconvenience to its employees but will be exploring further options going forward.