Google gave the media its new work-from-home policy before telling all employees

Some stories posted before the company emailed all affected Googlers

Google made big news this week with an announcement that employees will come back to the office three days a week in the Bay Area and other locations. Unfortunately, some of that news broke before employees got the company email informing them their work lives were changing.

The hybrid work announcement, made Wednesday, applies to the Bay Area and several other U.S. locations. Under the new plan, “most employees will spend approximately three days in the office and two days working where they choose.”

The Mountain View search engine giant says it “shared the news with a few media outlets” under embargo, an agreement that the news agencies would not publish until a time the company stipulates.

At 11:11 a.m. PST Wednesday, the company sent an email to Bay Area employees about the change, according to an email timestamp I saw. The Wall Street Journal then posted their story about the hybrid work week 19 minutes later, at 11:30 am PST.

But here’s where things went sideways. Google didn’t send out the email informing Boston-area Googlers about the change until noon PST, a half hour after the WSJ broke the news. By that time, the announcement was published by the WSJ, the WSJ had posted its story to Facebook and the news was sent out widely to other members of the press.

How does it feel for the internet to know you’re going back to the office before your company has told you?

“It’s upsetting but not surprising,” Alex Gorowara told me. “It does really feel like this was a publicity thing.”

Gorowara, a software engineer and seven-year Google veteran, works in the Boston area and got an email informing him of the change at 3 p.m. his time, after the news was out, according to a timestamp I saw.

Google says it rolled out the news to different offices throughout the day. When asked, the company did not explain why it pushed out the news in advance under an embargo that was earlier than some of the emails to employees. What was the rush? That’s unclear.

Gorowara is a member of the Alphabet Workers Union, the employee organization that has been a leader in holding big tech companies accountable. He says reaction to the hybrid work announcement has been “a bit mixed.”

Some folks want to stick with “what’s worked for the past two years,” Gorowara told me. He said Google appears to be looking at a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday plan. “It is looking mid-week.” We wrote about that trend on Feb. 18. One downtown worker told me she is seeing the trend and that it means “Wednesday is the new Friday” when it comes to going out with friends after work…

What tech company gets the most money from The City? City data shows that would be Dallas-based AT&T, which has raked in $187 million in contracts since 2010 for telephone services, data transmission and wireless services. How do you get that kind of dough? Make friends with city officials, of course. Over that time, AT&T lobbyists have gotten together with San Francisco public officials 379 times.

This is also worth noting: None of the top five tech companies getting San Francisco taxpayer dollars is in San Francisco, the city data shows. Only one is in the state of California. The rest of the top five are taking their SF dollars away from here. Motorola ($151 million in city contracts) is in Chicago. ConvergeOne, an IT and cybersecurity company ($100 million), is in Minnesota. Oracle ($78 million) moved from Redwood City to Austin. Only Computerland of Silicon Valley ($78 million) is nearby, and it’s in San Jose…

Grammarly, the San Francisco company that uses artificial intelligence to fix up businesses’ writing, has stepped up again to help Ukraine. Grammarly’s three co-founders are all from Ukraine: Max Lytvyn, Alex Shevchenko and Dmytro Lider. And the company has many employees in the country that is currently being devastated by a Russian invasion. Grammarly will donate all of the net revenue earned from Russia since 2014 to causes supporting Ukraine, a total of more than $5 million. The company has already contributed $1 million to Ukraine organizations. The company has also suspended service in Russia…

Finally, there’s this. The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is coming to town March 22–23. An initial press release I received for the event was incorrect in promoting a talk by the CEO of GROINTELLIGENCE. The company thankfully has a space in the name, Gro Intelligence. Hey, GROINTELLIGENCE still wouldn’t be as bad as Fashism, the late, not-great clothes shopping app out of New York.

Send items to jelder@sfexaminer.com

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