Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Google and Salesforce are trying bribes and penalties to get workers back to offices


American corporate executives are stepping up efforts to get workers back to their offices, using a range of threats and incentives to push employees to abandon the work-from-home style they adopted in the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more than a year, Google has required workers to come in three days a week, enticing them with free food and other perks. But now, the company is getting serious. On Wednesday, the company told workers they must comply with the three-day requirement or their no-show could show up at their performance reviews, according to a memo sent to employees by Google chief Fiona Ciccone, obtained by The Washington Post.

At Farmers Insurance, many workers are being asked to return to their offices three days a week starting in September, even after being told last year that remote work is here to stay. In return, tech giant Salesforce said it will donate to local charities for every day workers come into the office later this month. An attempt to attract altruistic motives in workers.

Despite President Biden declaring the pandemic over, the tug-of-war around the office is still in full swing. Workers are reluctant to part with the flexibility they gained during the pandemic, arguing that it has benefited their mental health and work-life balance. But many executives insist the office remains a necessary link to innovation and collaboration, and local governments are eager for workers to return to help revitalize the struggling downtown.

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Perks — such as fancy coffee, free lunches and commuter benefits — that employers once used to lure workers back are gone in most workplaces. Major corporations such as Disney, Starbucks and AT&T have in recent months mandated that workers return to their offices. Despite these efforts, office occupancy remains stubbornly stuck at less than 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels in major metropolitan areas across the country, according to data tracked by Castel systems.

Now, as a huge wave of layoffs continues in Silicon Valley and general economic anxiety continues across the country, companies are making a renewed push — and many aren’t playing nice anymore.

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The golden age of Silicon Valley is fading

Google has long been known for its colorful offices and franchises, which included all-you-can-eat food, laundry services, and free massages. Its managers boasted of being among the first major American companies to send workers home in March 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning to take hold. Google has offered videoconferencing and cloud services to other companies as ways to enable remote work, recreation, and education. But it’s also been one of the biggest pushes for a return to the office.

The company began requiring workers to go to their offices three days a week in April 2022, but many simply ignored the requirements, with attendance enforced in a sporadic fashion depending on the person’s manager and department. Many of Google’s shiny offices, including the gigantic new building in Mountain View, California, are doing well below capacity.

“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 amplified when team members work from the same location,” Cicconi said in the memo. “Of course, not everyone believes in ‘magic hallway conversations,’ but there is no doubt that working together in the same room makes a positive difference.”

One Google employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid this, said the new letter from management, which cannot be referenced in a person’s performance review, was seen as the most aggressive attempt yet to lure people into the office. revenge. It could lead to more workers quitting or being fired, they said, adding to the thousands Google laid off in January.

“Our hybrid approach is designed to combine the best of being together in person with the benefits of working from home for part of the week. Now after more than a year in this way of working, we are formally incorporating this approach into all of our workplace policies,” said Google spokesperson Ryan Lamont.

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Meanwhile, Salesforce is trying an unusual tactic to get workers in the door: The company plans to donate $10 to local charities for each day an employee comes into the offices from June 12-23, an initiative first reported by luck. Salesforce will also make a charitable donation for each remote employee who attends a company event during this window.

said Annie Vincent, Director of Corporate Communications at Salesforce, in a statement to The Mail.

With nearly 12,000 employees in San Francisco, Salesforce is The largest tech employer Based in the city, job vacancies rose to a record 29 percent. Salesforce is part of that decline: As of March, it owns the management software company Shed of 1 million square feet office space from its 61-story headquarters that towers over San Francisco as the tallest building.

This time last year, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was raving about it barbs From the strict back-to-the-office mandates some executives were handing in, arguing that they would “never go to work” and touting Salesforce’s “work from anywhere” model as a key hiring advantage in a tight job market.

But Benioff’s position changed as worsening economic conditions and the mass layoffs devastated Silicon Valley. The company cut its workforce by 10 percent, or more than 7,000 jobs, in January, leaving the door open for more cuts. In addition to trimming its office footprint, Salesforce has given up the 75-acre Trailblazer ranch in California’s Scotts Valley that it rented last year as a prep and team-building retreat. (Staff can take yoga and cooking classes, go on nature walks, and meditate.)

It’s not just the tech giants that are reversing the remote work path. At Farmers Insurance, which told employees last year that the majority could work remotely, CEO Raul Vargas announced last month that the company is mandating a three-day week in offices for employees who live within 50 miles of an office starting in September. Roughly 60 percent of the company’s 22,000-strong workforce will be hybrid, while other roles will be remote or entirely in the office, according to Carly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Farmers Insurance.

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The purpose of the mandate, Kraft told The Post, is to “foster greater collaboration, creativity and innovation while providing better opportunities for learning, training, mentoring, career development, and organic interaction.”

Kraft added that while remote work made sense when the pandemic began, the hybrid approach is working better for the company now. Mix of working in the office and from home It remains the prevailing situation for white-collar employees, with 52 percent of remote jobs working on mixed schedules as of February, according to Gallup’s Hybrid Action Index.

Kraft noted that the decision was implemented with “a great deal of thought,” including giving employees three months to prepare. But the move has been met with concern from employees who have oriented their lives toward being able to work remotely, selling cars and moving to cities far from farmers’ offices, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal.

Farmers’ justification mirrors arguments made by executives from Disney’s Bob Iger to Amazon’s Andy Jassy in pressing for a strong return to the office. The workers fell into those companies Petitioners objecting to requests to return to offices, arguing that doing so would affect their productivity, mental health, and work-life balance.

Many experts believe that office mandates are not enough to create stronger company cultures. Many CEOs are “trying to avoid” the hard work of figuring out how to make time spent together translate into meaningful connections, rather than just requiring a certain number of days in the office, said Kali Williams Yost, a longtime flexible working strategist.

“Sure, people will comply because they don’t want to lose their jobs, but is this a reactive, focused, intentional way to work for someone?” Williams asked.