Google recently implemented changes to its hybrid office policy, introducing badge tracking and emphasising the inclusion of attendance in performance reviews. Furthermore, employees who were previously granted approval for remote work may now face a re-evaluation of their remote status.
According to discussions with employees and internal posts on a site called Memegen, Google is experiencing a rising level of apprehension among its staff regarding the extent of management's control over physical attendance, reported CNBC.
Employees express feeling like they are being treated akin to schoolchildren. Additionally, there is mounting uncertainty among those who relocated to different cities and states after receiving permission to work remotely, as they ponder what the future holds for them.
“If you cannot attend the office today, your parents should submit an absence request,” read one of the memes viewed by CNBC. It showcased a photoshopped image featuring Fiona Cicconi, the head of human resources, standing in front of a chalkboard reminiscent of a school setting.
Another meme that received high ratings said, "Check my work, not my badge."
In an email, Ryan Lamont, a spokesperson for Google, clarified that the collected badge data is "aggregated" for the benefit of company leaders, said the same report by CNBC. “Now that we’ve fully transitioned to the hybrid work week, company leaders can see reports showing how their teams are adopting the hybrid work model,” the statement said, adding Google doesn’t “share individual Googler badge data” in its reports.
According to an internal document, group leaders will be informed about individuals who have not been present in the office frequently enough. “Managers of non-remote Googlers who have been consistently absent from the office will be cc’ed on emails to these Googlers (subject to local requirements), so they can support Googlers in either ramping back to the office or exploring other flexibility options,” the document said.
Starting in April of the previous year, Google initiated a phased return of the majority of its employees to physical offices for three days a week. This decision came after encountering challenges and delays in its return-to-office plans, which were further complicated by recurring surges in Covid infection rates.
Despite ongoing low attendance and the company's efforts to reduce costs, Google implemented changes this year that have not always been well-received. For instance, in February Google's cloud unit informed employees of its transition to a desk-sharing workspace in its five largest locations, coinciding with a downsizing of real estate.
Google is not the only tech company facing challenges in navigating the hybrid work model. In a similar vein, Amazon witnessed thousands of employees participating in a walkout last month, urging the company to reconsider its three-day-a-week office requirement.
Salesforce, on the other hand, has reportedly offered to donate $10 per day to a local charity chosen by employees who return to the office. Meta recently announced that starting in September, employees will be required to work from a physical office for a minimum of three days per week.