Google will require most employees to return to their physical offices three days a week to work. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the company has always said that it hopes that people will eventually be able to return to the office. However, many employees have expressed concern and questioned whether a return to brick-and-mortar offices is really necessary. At a recent virtual all-hands meeting, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai read out one of the top questions for employees at the company: “Google is making record profits during the pandemic, why do you (Google management) want to implement an RTO (return to office) policy at this time?”
Tech companies, including Google, have done particularly well during the pandemic. Thanks in part to a slew of cloud-based collaboration tools. Employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility and ability to spend more time with their families. Now, as many companies force their workers back to work and the labor market continues to tighten.
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Two-thirds of employers say they expect employees to become “near-full-time employees” again. However, half of the employees claim they would look for new jobs if necessary. Clearly, there is a serious disconnect between employers and employees in terms of return to work.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon’s return to work policies have changed many times
Many companies have changed their policies several times before returning to the office. In June 2021, Amazon withdrew its original plan to return to work and notified regular employees that the company would allow them to return to the office three days a week without requiring a full-time presence. Amazon said at the time that it was “continuously learning and evolving.” In October, Amazon said the decision would be left to individual teams.
Microsoft and Google have added a 30-day “transition period” to make it easier for employees to adjust to returning to brick-and-mortar offices. Google made its first attempt to bring employees back to the office last spring, before a resurgence of Covid-19 infections in the United States. At the time, Google claims employees could apply to work remotely for up to 12 months. However, this would only be approved in “the most exceptional circumstances.”
Since then, the tone of Google’s management seems to have softened. Google said the company has approved 85 percent of employee requests to relocate or permanently telecommute.
In a recent memo to employees, Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s executive in charge of search, advertising, and commerce, wrote… “You are all grown-ups, and we trust that you will do something to yourselves. Make the right decisions for your families and your lives, while respecting the new baseline. We don’t expect to be 100% in the mix of three days a week in the office…”