Google Says It’s Time to Come Back to the Office

Google has unveiled a stringent new hybrid work policy designed to ensure a consistent employee presence at its physical offices. As CNBC reports, the tech giant will begin tracking office badge attendance, confronting employees who don’t consistently show up and incorporating attendance records into performance reviews.

According to internal memos, Google expects its employees to be present in physical offices at least three days a week. This policy change represents the company’s most rigorous attempt yet to bring its workforce back into physical office environments.

Google’s Chief People Officer, Fiona Cicconi, sent an email to employees underlining the importance of office attendance. Cicconi emphasized that in-person collaboration is irreplaceable, contributing positively to the conception and development of products. She cited the products unveiled at the recent I/O and Google Marketing Live events as the outcome of teams working in close proximity.

Google’s new policy will start incorporating the three-days-a-week office attendance rule into employees’ performance reviews. Persistent office absences will be flagged, with teams sending reminders to errant workers.

Cicconi also encouraged approved remote workers living near a Google office to consider switching to a hybrid work schedule, stating, “Our offices are where you’ll be most connected to Google’s community.” However, the company will re-evaluate existing remote work approvals if there are significant changes in business needs, role, team structure, or location.

In the U.S., Google will use badge data to track employees’ adherence to office attendance and is currently reviewing how to implement similar checks in other countries. If workers repeatedly fail to comply with the policy, HR will initiate a conversation about “next steps.”

Cicconi’s note indicated that moving forward, fully remote work would only be granted under exceptional circumstances.

The introduction of this stricter policy comes as Google is in an intense competition in the field of AI, with rivals such as Microsoft gaining ground with AI models like ChatGPT. It also follows recent efforts to curtail leaks from within the company.

However, these changes are also set against a backdrop of Google’s downsizing of its real estate footprint and broader cost-cutting measures. This includes transitioning to a desk-sharing workspace in its five largest locations and an indefinite pause on the construction of its massive San Jose campus in California.

With COVID-19 becoming a distant memory, the allure of working from home appears to be coming to an end. Some projects just need face-to-face collaboration, as that can result in the best ideas to come about, versus online video meetings. Heck, some remote workers might be deploying the ‘bird drinking the water’ tool (season 3, episode 24) ingeniously used by Homer Simpson when he’s working from home (season 7, episode 7):

YouTube video

YouTube video

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