Tech’s return to office plans add teeth, treats to compel compliance

office workplace

The return to office clock is ticking down for Bay Area tech workers as several large employers enact new attendance protocols and others prepare staff for new in-person requirements anticipated to begin after Labor Day. While the intent is similar, approaches continue to vary widely, according to reports. 

Last week, an internal memo from Meta warned about a crackdown on attendance accountability, telling employees that failure to fulfill a three-day-a-week obligation beginning September 5 could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Google began transitioning employees back to a three-days-per-week policy last year, and cautioned employees about increased enforcement measures including badge tracking and disciplinary action earlier this summer. It also asked some approved remote workers to consider joining their colleagues in office, and warned about potential changes to the remote work policy as needs warrant, saying that full-remote positions would be an exception rather than the rule. This month, it has added more carrot, offering employees a ‘summer special’ $99 per-night rate at the company’s nearby Mountain View hotel – at the employee’s expense – to help ease the transition back to in-office work by avoiding commutes and enjoying after-work recreation opportunities away from home. The offer stands through September 30.  

As perhaps the most telling sign of a shift back towards in-person work, San Jose-based Zoom earlier this month updated its ‘structured hybrid’ approach, mandating employees within 50 miles of an office to attend in-person at least two days per week.

As companies grapple with bringing employees back to the office, a new poll has pointed to successful strategies in hybrid policymaking, according to recent reports. A recent survey by The Conference Board suggests that team building and celebration events, flexible hours and workdays, and dress codes tending toward the relaxed casual end of the spectrum are the top-favored benefits, with other perks like free lunches and paid travel also ranking high on the list.

Meanwhile, reports abound that employee pushback continues, and recruitment and retention challenges are growing. A recent study by recruitment services firm Greenhouse held that more than 76% of workers would consider or pursue a new job if their company’s work policies became stricter, and 42% won’t even bother applying for a job that does not fit their preferred model. We will continue to track return to office news and provide updates in the coming weeks.