Brett Sadler

What if Google did Housing?


Everybody has heard of Google, right? Whether you are a fan or not, I’m sure you will have used some of their products before, if not today. For example, how many times have you heard ‘just Google it’?

Bearing in mind that Google have their fingers in a lot of pies, from their main Google Search offer, to Android and then to Google(x) products like self-driving cars and Project Loon, it is interesting to think what would happen if Google did Housing.

At this point I have to point out that Google are already dipping their toe into the Housing world. Maybe not in the bricks and mortar side, but through Ancoris they have effectively entered the Housing market, offering their Google for Work package to help Housing organisations improve their working practices.

But, I do wonder what would happen if Google actually built Houses, or even ran a Housing Association? Google’s famous ‘Moonshots’ are where they have a company culture that encourages experimentation and the free flow of ideas – the bigger the better.

I know what you are thinking, that’s fine for Google, they are a multi-national company. Yes they are. They have 50,000 employees worldwide, have a reported 2million applicants per year for their jobs, with a 1/500 chance of getting a position. But one thing I really do like about Google is that they see a problem and they try to fix it, but they don’t just do this incrementally. They work on things that could change the world. It may not always work out, but I for one really like this mindset. Too much of Housing is set in the past, based on old working practices and concepts that have just not moved with the times.

Maybe this blog has turned into a plea to Google, or for someone like Google, to have a go at sorting out one of the UK’s (worlds) biggest problems – Housing. I for one wouldn’t bet against them.


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3 thoughts on “What if Google did Housing?

  1. johnpopham on said:

    The thing about Google is that it constantly reinvents itself to make sure it stays relevant. Who in social housing was preparing for a future without Government grant and where home ownership was promoted as the only legitimate option?

    I don’t think anyone was, and anybody who suggested it would have been likely to have been shot down. It shows that you must be prepared to think the unthinkable.

  2. I find conversations like this really interesting. I love housing and I am absolutely on the innovation side of the fence. I find ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ to be one of the most dangerous phrases in the English language. I totally think that we need to reimagine the housing world from scratch and build a world that actually does what tenants need, rather than standing still and waiting for the ‘sh*t hitting the fan’ klaxon.

    That said, I do get a bit jittery about comparisons with giants like Google, Apple, Amazon etc. They all have their place and if the idea is to jump start innovation, then I’m in.

    But being realistic – Steve Jobs might be inspirational to some, but he was well known for being an arse. Amazon do customer service and customer insight as well as anyone in the industry and we can learn lessons – but they too can learn lessons. There are many reports that worry me about how they treat their staff. And Google – well, a life without Google is inconceivable now. But their primary concern is profit, not people.

    So I’m all for innovation, but I wonder if there are ways to bring out what we do best. An example – – a BRILLIANT way to buy books that ticks an ethical and a financial box. Or John Lewis, which says customer service is the most important facet of its business.

    Or Lush, who make a mint but stick to their principles of refusing to test on animals. Or BrewDog, who have a really brilliant internal comms and branding function.

    Anyway, I totally agree with you that we need to think outside the box, but I’d also argue that we need to think outside the box with our examples too šŸ˜‰

    All about innovation though – let’s make the housing world a better, more efficient place for its tenants.

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