Google has updated its hybrid work policy, cracking down on employees who aren’t consistently working from the office.
In memos seen by reporters at The Verge and CNBC, Google said it will start tracking office badges to see how often workers are coming into the office. The updated policy calls for confronting workers who aren’t meeting the in-office requirements, and factoring office attendance into employees’ performance reviews. Most employees are expected to be in the office three days a week and teams will start sending reminders to workers who are persistently absent from the office.
As of April 2022, most Google employees have been expected in physical offices at least three days a week.
“Many of the products we unveiled at I/O and Google Marketing Live last month were conceived, developed and built by teams working side by side,” Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi wrote in an email to employees, updating them on the policy. The contents of the email was first reported by CNBC.
“There’s just no substitute for coming together in person,” she said, adding that while not everyone believes in “magical hallway conversations,” there’s no question that in-person working is beneficial for companies.
Employees who have already had their remote worker status approved but live near a Google office will be asked to consider switching to a hybrid work schedule. The remote status of some workers will also face re-evaluation if Google determines there have been “material changes in business need, role, team, structure or location,” CNBC reported.
Last week, The Information reported that Meta was enacting its strictest remote work policy change since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring employees to be in the office three days a week from September.
The kind of work that a lot of people do at Big Tech companies, such as software development, tends to lend itself well to remote work, said J. P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's Future of Work team. He noted that the tightening of some of these hybrid work policies could be the result of company leaders trying to exert a greater degree of control over the workforce to drive their goals.
“Whether that ends up being successful or not, is a somewhat different question,” Gowder said. “There are certain workers who have said they've never wantedto go back to an office and some of them may have other options, either in other tech firms or as freelancers, so companies are going to have to keep an eye on attrition.”
Gowder said there could also be a concern from workers that companies are starting to backtrack on promises they made, which could erode company morale or hurt the employee experience.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.