Back to the office! Google demands shrinking remote hours

Tech giant Google gave its employees an ultimatum this week: Return to the office three days a week or risk losing their job.

The company issued the demand in a memo Wednesday that said if workers didn’t show up, they would feel it in their performance reviews.

The memo, first reported by The Washington Post, marks a clear shift in the company’s messaging around remote work. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google was one of the first firms to let its workers do their jobs remotely. Many other tech companies followed suit, and thousands of employees enjoyed working from home for nearly two years.

As the pandemic waned, Google began luring employees back to the office with expensive perks like free food. Other companies tried similar measures to get people back at their desks to mixed results.

The problem for the online search company is that it already had some of the best perks in the business before the pandemic. Google offices offered employees all-you-can-eat buffets and free massages. So, after its attempts to lure employees with niceties failed, the firm issued an ultimatum.

Google initially asked employees to return part-time to the office in April 2022. However, the policy was not heavily enforced, and many employees simply ignored it.

Workers around the country, not just at Google, are pushing back to defend their remote work privileges. At Amazon, workers recently staged a walkout protest over the company’s return-to-office policies.

Employees feel that remote work has let them spend more time with their families and hobbies. Meanwhile, research suggests that remote work does not diminish productivity.

Some Google workers fear that the new mandate will cause more people to leave the company, something that would likely hurt morale after devastating layoffs this year.  Google has fired around 12,000 workers since January.

From Google’s perspective, its exorbitant office real estate is burning a hole in its pockets.

According to recent reports, capacity at U.S. offices is still 50% of what it was prepandemic.

Source: WT