Goodbye home office: new rules at Google

Google is tightening its rules for employees who work from home. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the tech giant is planning to include office attendance in performance reviews. Employees who are rarely in the office are also to receive “reminders”. Google hopes that these measures will lead to greater personal collaboration after the pandemic.

The new policy was announced in an email from Fiona Cicconi, Chief People Officer at Google, to all employees on Wednesday. In future, full-time home offices will only be approved in exceptional cases. All other employees must be in the office at least three days a week. Previously, around 20 percent of the workforce was allowed to work completely remotely, a rule that has been in place since April 2022.

Why Google relies on office presence

Google emphasizes that most employees already meet the new requirements. Studies within the company have shown that employees who are regularly in the office build a stronger bond with their colleagues and the company. Fiona Cicconi explained: “Of course, not everyone believes in the ‘magic hallway conversations’, but it is undeniable that on-site collaboration has positive effects.”

Many of the innovative projects that Google presented at the annual I/O conference were the result of face-to-face collaboration, Cicconi continued. However, there will still be exceptions to office presence, for example in the case of air quality warnings due to forest fires, as was recently the case in Canada and on the US East Coast.

Trendsetter or latecomer?

With this decision, Google is following the example of other large tech companies such as Amazon, Meta and Apple, which have already restricted working from home in the past. Some of these companies have even linked office presence to benefits and salaries, which in some cases led to fierce protests.

Another reason for Google’s efforts to bring employees back to the office is the planned investment of around 7 billion US dollars in new offices and data centers, which was announced in 2021. These new offices are now to be filled once the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. After a year of hybrid working, Google is now firmly integrating this approach into its working guidelines.

What does this mean for employees?

For Google employees, the new policy means a significant change in everyday working life. Flexibility will be restricted and personal interaction in the office will be brought back to the fore. The exact impact on employee job satisfaction and productivity remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that Google and other tech giants are taking a clear course towards more office presence – and possibly setting a new standard in the industry.

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