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Google Wants Employees To Return To Office; Many Push Back Saying ‘Check My Work, Not My Badge'

Google employees feel that the management's monitoring of physical attendance is reminiscent of treating them like schoolchildren.
Cover Image Source: GettyImages | CadoMaestro
Cover Image Source: GettyImages | CadoMaestro

Google's updated office policy featuring its return-to-office plans has been met with confusion and discontent among employees. While the company has been navigating the challenges of the post-pandemic era, recent updates to its hybrid office policy have added to the concerns.

The inclusion of badge tracking and the incorporation of attendance in performance reviews have raised eyebrows and led to employees feeling micromanaged, CNBC reported. Those who were previously granted remote work approval are now facing the possibility of having their status reevaluated. This has resulted in growing apprehension and uncertainty, particularly among employees who have relocated after receiving clearance for remote work.

Google employees feel that the management's monitoring of physical attendance is reminiscent of treating them like schoolchildren, several posts on an internal site called Memegen accessed by CNBC indicated. The frustration is evident in the memes shared by employees, where phrases like "If you cannot attend the office today, your parents should submit an absence request" and "check my work, not my badge" reflect the sentiment of being overly monitored.

The inclusion of photoshopped images of human resources head, Fiona Cicconi, in front of a school chalkboard highlights the discontent among the workforce.

Image Source: Pexels/CadoMaestro
Image Source: Pexels/CadoMaestro

In response to the concerns raised, Google's spokesperson Ryan Lamont stated that the badge data collected is aggregated for company leaders. Lamont clarified that the purpose of collecting this data is to allow company leaders to assess the adoption of the hybrid work model within their teams. The statement emphasized that individual employee badge data is not shared in the reports.

Internal documents reveal that group leaders will be informed about non-remote employees who are regularly absent from the office. Managers of such workers will be CCed on emails to the latter, allowing them to offer support in either encouraging a return to the office or exploring alternative flexibility options. This system aims to ensure that employees receive the necessary guidance and assistance in adjusting to the new hybrid work model, the document adds.

Image Source: GettyImages/Alex Wong
Image Source: GettyImages/Alex Wong

YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, held an all-hands meeting to discuss the office policy update. The meeting was conducted virtually, which employees found ironic since the company is advocating for in-person attendance. This irony was humorously captured in a meme that juxtaposed an image of the character Leonard Hofstadter from "The Big Bang Theory" with the quote, "What are you looking at? You've never seen a hypocrite before?"

Challenges for Google In the Post-Pandemic Era

The discontent surrounding the return-to-office policies represents another challenge for Google as it strives to bring employees back to its offices and campuses. Before the pandemic, Google was known for its vibrant campus life, offering various amenities like massage parlors, yoga classes, video games, and free gourmet meals. However, the priorities and expectations of employees have shifted during the pandemic. Remote work options and increased flexibility have become valued aspects of their work-life balance. Google's efforts to regain a sense of normalcy are hampered by the changes in employee expectations and the various challenges associated with returning to physical offices.

Image Source: Pexels/Brett Jordan
Image Source: Pexels/Brett Jordan

Google isn't the only tech company facing difficulties in implementing hybrid work models. Amazon recently witnessed thousands of employees walking off to protest against the three-day work from office mandate. Salesforce has taken a different approach by offering to donate $10 a day to the local charity of choice for each employee who returns to the office. Meanwhile, Meta has also announced that employees will be required to work from office at least three days a week starting September.

As Google continues to navigate the evolving landscape of hybrid work, it will likely make further adjustments to strike a balance between employee expectations and the company's goals.