Google Gets Stricter About Employees’ Time in Office

Google will consider new requests to work remotely full time as exceptions only.
Google will consider new requests to work remotely full time as exceptions only.


  • Search giant, which asks most workers to be in an office 3 days a week, will consider attendance as part of performance

Google will consider office attendance records in performance reviews and send reminders to employees with frequent absences, becoming the latest company to urge a return to in-person collaboration following an embrace of remote work during the pandemic.

The search giant, a unit of Alphabet, will also consider new requests to work remotely full time as exceptions only, Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi wrote in a companywide email announcing the changes on Wednesday. Most employees already follow Google’s hybrid work policy, which requires roughly three days of work in the office a week, she wrote in the email, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Google outlined plans to bring employees back to the office three days a week beginning in April last year. It previously announced in 2021 that about 20% of employees would be allowed to work remotely full time.

“We’ve heard from Googlers that those who spend at least three days a week in the office feel more connected to other Googlers, and that this effect is magnified when teammates work from the same location," Cicconi wrote. “Of course, not everyone believes in ‘magical hallway conversations,’ but there’s no question that working together in the same room makes a positive difference."

Many of the new products Google announced at its annual I/O conference last month emerged from in-person work, Cicconi said.

“Of course, there will be circumstances where you may not be able to come to the office, like this week’s air quality control warning in Canada and the U.S. East Coast—we always want you to look after yourself and take care of your health," Cicconi wrote.

Smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires cast a persistent haze Wednesday over populous areas of the eastern U.S., forcing many people to limit outdoor activity.

Companies ranging from Amazon to Walt Disney have begun pushing employees to return to physical offices, touting the benefits of in-person collaboration. Some employers have also tied office attendance to performance and pay.

The edicts have sometimes led to pushback from employees who grew accustomed to more flexible working conditions during the pandemic. Hundreds of Amazon employees recently protested the company’s return-to-work policies, among other issues, outside the company’s Seattle headquarters.

Google said in 2021 it would spend $7 billion on new offices and data centers in the U.S. that year, a bet partly on the return of in-person work as the pandemic receded.

Alphabet reported 190,711 employees at the end of the first quarter this year, following a round of layoffs in January affecting about 12,000 staffers, or 6% of the company. It also booked a $564 million charge related to office space reductions during the quarter.

“Our hybrid approach is designed to incorporate the best of being together in person with the benefits of working from home for part of the week," a Google spokesman said Wednesday. “Now that we’re more than a year into this way of working, we’re formally integrating this approach into all of our workplace policies."

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