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Google threatens to lose its employees if it forces them to return to the offices

Google threatens to lose its employees if it forces them to return to the offices

Google was one of the first large companies to move its workforce from its offices in the early days of the pandemic, but now it is calling employees again. Some of them say that they do not intend to return.

At a time when tech companies like Microsoft (Microsoft) and Twitter (Twitter) announced that they would allow employees to work from home permanently, Google has resisted the transition to working completely remotely, with employees saying that there is a growing sense of frustration. among a faction of the workforce.

That frustration spread to social media last week, as Chris Broadfoot, a Google programmer, wrote on Thursday: “I spoke to quite a few colleagues at Google and they said they would stop working if they were forced to go back to the office in September.” .

Several other employees joined the conversation to share their thoughts, with some saying they could look for another job if Google forces them to return to the offices.

Six current Google employees, who spoke to Insider, shared the same sentiment and said they know their colleagues who have taken steps to permanently work remotely during the pandemic. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

“Many of my colleagues have left with no real intention to return. Most of them were in that age group of 30 to 40,” said one of those employees.

Another said that at least two employees in his group had taken permanent measures of their way of life during the epidemic, hoping not to return to the office even if asked to do so.

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Mixed model

Google told employees that they are expected to return to the offices in September 2021, but last December, the company said it would test a new flexible arrangement in which employees are expected to work outside of the office 3 days a week. .

The company has provided some specifics of the new deal, and employees are pressing officials for answers. Google has never said that it will offer remote work entirely to anyone who wants it, but with the deadline for returning to the offices pushed back, some employees have arranged to continue working remotely anyway, betting that Google will eventually follow suit. other companies that allow employees. to work from home permanently. Facebook announced last year that it would begin allowing employees to work remotely.

“There are employees who are already leaving because they don’t want to wait until September. They want to get on with their lives,” said one employee.

A Google spokesperson said the company would run a series of tests to work remotely, but said nothing had changed in terms of current policy.

Alphabet Inc. intends to spend $ 7 billion on offices and data centers in 2021 (Reuters)

And if company opinion polls are to be believed, many Google employees want to go back to the office. In an internal survey last year, 62% of Google employees said they want to come back, although only 8% said they would like to. so full time.

In recent months, CEO Sundar Pichai has offered other indications that Google is considering flexible hours when employees return. Since then, questions have been asked about leadership ideas on how to work remotely.

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In a session last October, Pichai said he saw that most of Google’s employee functions were still tied to one office, but said the company plans to expand the number of “central” offices to give employees more flexibility. in the way they work.

Employees have since pressed to clarify how flexible Google would like it to be and whether the 3-day office rule will apply equally across the company, but they say they are getting no responses.

During the company’s first-quarter earnings announcement this week, Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said that Alphabet intends to spend $ 7 billion on offices and data centers in 2021.

“We value bringing people together in the office. We are looking for a mixed model to work from home and in the office,” he added to an analyst.

Google may lose its employees

While some wait for answers on what they will look like, some employees take the initiative and walk away from their desks, while others don’t see the need to go to the office for up to 3 days a week.

Justin Pickworth, Google’s chief engineering officer, tweeted: “I don’t intend to go back to Seattle every day, I can move from meeting to meeting via video calls.” “Right now I am managing 8 people Cities are divided into 5 time zones. Why should it be in an office? “

But forcing employees to return could also mean a loss of talent for competitors with more flexible arrangements, as 3 Google employees told Insider they had noticed an increase in letters from recruiters at other companies affirming their telecommuting policies. .

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“I think they will have a talent drain if they force everyone to come back in September,” said one of those employees.

Another person interested in moving their family said, “If I don’t have a way to remotely Google by next spring, I’ll look elsewhere.”

Google currently allows employees to return voluntarily as offices have reopened, although employees must first pass a health survey and agree to follow the new health guidelines. And for those who don’t want to go back yet, they still have that option.

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