Google to Penalize Workers Who Don’t Return to the Office

Office attendance will be tied to performance, and badge data will be used to track the number of workers coming in.

In March of last year, Google called its staff back to the office, a move since followed by other big tech companies like Meta and Amazon. However, it seems not everyone was onboard, with the company now demanding stricter adherence to its return-to-office policy.

According to internal memos, Google will be tying office attendance to performance reviews, and using badge data to track who is in, and who isn’t.

The move by Google is the latest instance of big tech cracking the whip and wanting office staff to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Google Ties Attendance to Performance

In internal memos released on Wednesday, and seen by CNBC, Google announced that it was updating its hybrid working policy, including insisting that staff are in the office three days a week.

The three day week policy is nothing new – Google actually introduced this over a year ago – however, it would appear that employees are showing resistance, hence Google’s harder line.

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As an ‘incentive’ to show up at the office, the memos suggest that attendance will be directly linked to performance, and that employees will be tracked by their badges, which will show if they are signing into the office. In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson said that the badge data would be aggerate, and not tracked to individuals.

Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi is also reported to have sent an email to staff yesterday, claiming that there is no substitute for being in the office.

The Reluctant Return to Office

While Google hasn’t shared information about how many of its employees are sticking to the three day office schedule, the fact the company is putting its foot down is a sign it’s not enough.

According to the email sent by Cicconi, even those that are already fully remote are being encouraged to drop into the office.

Those employees that are expected to return to the office can also look forward to a catch up with HR, should they not commit, according to the internal memo.

With company perks at Google being reduced considerably recently, and some staff having to double up on desks, you could be forgiven for not blaming Google employees for wanting to stay at home. Then there’s the potential affect on morale after the company let go of 11,000 workers earlier in the year.

However, with Google’s huge $10 billion dollar investment in physical office space, it’s fair to say the company will be looking to get its money’s worth.

Big Tech’s Love of the Office

Return to office mandates are nothing new. If you’ve been following the news you’ll know that many heavy hitters in the tech space have already told employees to get back to their desks.

However, what we haven’t seen too much of yet, is the iron fist being removed from the velvet glove, and harsher penalties being imposed on those that don’t yield. The most notable example of this has been Elon Musk’s Tesla, which threatened similar tactics to those that we’re seeing from Google now – namely tracking staff attendance with badges, and the threat of calls with HR.

Musk is notoriously vocal about his position on remote work, even going so far as to call it ‘immoral’ in recent weeks. If this move from Google is anything to go by, he may not be alone, and we could see even tighter penalties from companies going forward, when staff don’t show up.

For now, there are plenty of companies that do offer remote working opportunities.

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Written by:
Jack is the Deputy Editor for He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.
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