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Google pushes in-person work with new attendance policy

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Google is joining the ranks of companies urging employees to return to in-person collaboration as it shifts its focus away from remote work. 

CPO Fiona Cicconi said Google will now consider office attendance records during performance reviews and send reminders to employees with frequent absences.

However, she said most employees already adhere to its hybrid work policy, requiring three days in the office per week.

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She said: “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 magnified when teammates work from the same location.

“Of course, not everyone believes in ‘magical hallway conversations,’ but there’s no question that working together in the same room makes a positive difference.”

She said numerous new products announced during its recent I/O conference resulted from in-person work.

She added: “Of course, there will be circumstances where you may not be able to come to the office, like this week’s air quality control warning in Canada and the U.S. East Coast—we always want you to look after yourself and take care of your health.”

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According to internal documents, the company will monitor office attendance in the US using badge data, and discussions are underway to extend this practice to other countries. 

If employees consistently fail to comply with the attendance policy, HR will intervene and initiate further actions. 

Cicconi said moving forward, full-time remote work will only be approved in exceptional cases.

Google revealed plans to bring employees back to the office thrice a week starting April last year.

In 2021, the company announced only 20 percent of staff would be permitted to work remotely full-time.

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Google's commitment to the return of in-person work is evident in its substantial investment. 

In 2021, the company announced plans to spend $7 billion on new offices and data centers in the US, expecting a resurgence in physical workspaces.

Numerous companies, including Amazon and Walt Disney, have been encouraging employees to return to physical offices, highlighting the advantages of in-person teamwork. 

Some organizations have even linked office attendance to performance evaluations and compensation.

Hundreds of Amazon employees recently protested the company's return-to-work policies in Seattle.

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