Google Employees Vent Frustration After Office Covid Outbreaks

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Employees at Google claim that since being forced to return to their workplaces, they have been inundated by Covid exposure warnings.
Memes that juxtapose the enthusiasm of management welcoming staff back to the office with the anxiety of often getting exposure notifications are the employees’ response.
Workers who claim they are still prohibited from attending in-person meetings although Covid instances frequently occur in workplaces with fully vaccinated staff are requesting the business to abandon its vaccine obligation.

Image Source- GOBankingRates

Some Google employees are questioning the company’s return-to-office requirements since they are often receiving notifications from management about Covid-19 infections.

The company ordered that most employees spend at least three days each week in their real offices starting in April. Employees have opposed the demand after working successfully from home for such a long time and aiding the company in experiencing some of its biggest sales increases in 15 years. Google has given full-time employees the option to work remotely permanently, however it is unknown how many requests for this have been approved.

According to the city’s public health dashboard, Google is presently the workplace in Los Angeles with the highest Covid-19 epidemic. Deadline.com was the first to reveal that the computer giant’s chic Silicon Beach facility in Venice, California, had 145 illnesses while the company’s sizable Playa Vista location had 135 cases.
A spokesperson for Google told CNBC, “There has not been a significant increase of onsite COVID-19 transmission on our campuses. The numbers that have been reported in Playa Vista and Venice reflect total cases over the last few months, not current or active cases.” 

On Memegen, a private company image-sharing website, staff members have started posting memes in response to the increase of exposure notifications. A photo of an email with the subject “Notification of Confirmed COVID-19 Case” and the message “We’re so delighted to have you back in the office!” from a San Francisco-based facilities manager was used in one joke that earned 2,840 upvotes.

Another meme with a large number of likes began with the words “How it started” and a picture of a rainbow arch, continued with the words “How it’s going,” and ended with the words “Notification of confirmed Covid-19 case.” Another image showed a joyful Pokemon enjoying a campus tour in the Bay Area, followed by images of a concerned Pokemon who had received a Covid-19 notice and a Pokemon that was scared after receiving 29 exposure notifications. I didn’t realise there were this many “Notification of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases” in the entire galaxy, reads the caption of another meme featuring the Star Wars character Rey.

Following the company’s return-to-work event, which featured a performance by Grammy Award-winning musician Lizzo for a sizable crowd of employees at the Shoreline Amphitheater, close to Google’s main campus, some employees claimed they noticed an increase in notifications from the Mountain View, California, and San Francisco offices.

The Google spokesperson said that the company follows the regulations set out by federal, state, and local authorities when determining what constitutes an epidemic of Covid and when to send exposure notifications.

Unvaccinated workers struggle to return to the workplace.
Google warned its employees in December that failure to abide by its vaccination standards might result in both pay loss and job termination. Then, in February, it loosened the restrictions requiring vaccinations as well as other standards relating to testing, social distance, and masks before asking staff to report back.

But entry into actual workplaces still required Covid-19 immunisation.

Some Google employees are now asking the company to drop the vaccine mandate, noting that even when everyone is fully immunised, Covid-19 outbreaks still happen in workplaces. The group argues in a manifesto titled “No Vaccine Mandate,” which was published last month and made available to CNBC, that vaccinations aren’t as effective against the highly contagious BA.5 variant, the fastest-spreading strain of Covid-19 yet identified, even though they still provide some protection. (Vaccinations still provide good defence against major disease and death, including those brought on by the BA.5 variant, but they provide little defence against infection or moderate illness.)

According to an anonymous manifesto, the group, which calls itself Googlers for No Vaccine Mandate, is upset that non-vaccinated employees and those who choose not to disclose their vaccination status are still prohibited from offices and other gatherings, such as off-sites, summits, and team functions. It also claims that certain Google employees were never made aware of the vaccination policy during the hiring process and that other employees haven’t seen their teams since March 2020.

“We’ve noticed waves of Covid, and Omicron and its subvariants have been spreading throughout Google offices since December 2021 without regard for immunisation status. Many adequately immunised and supplemented employees have missed work for many days due to Covid. In response to the barrage of exposure warnings that office workers have received, we have seen both fearful and cordial replies.

Boeing, Intel, and United Airlines are a few of the companies that previously demanded Covid immunizations but have since stopped doing so, citing a federal court decision that ruled it was unlawful to enforce the federal contractor executive order that required immunizations for significant employers who are also government contractors. The group’s manifesto states that it hopes Google leadership adopts a similar approach.

CNBC is aware of the identities of certain members, but the organisation as a whole is largely anonymous. It claims to have hundreds of employees with tenures of up to 10 years working in industries including engineering, programme management, UX design, education, sales, marketing, and finance. It also includes Google workers who, after receiving all advised immunizations, “believe the company’s vaccine policy is a breach of privacy and is insensitive to individual situations and risk factors.”

“We’re writing to ask your aid for a few Googlers who still aren’t authorised back to our offices,” the note continues. We are contacting you as colleagues and peers since Google leadership has ignored our straightforward requests. When planning an in-person meeting, conference, or offsite, take into account how Googlers who are restricted from full participation by the vaccine policy could be acknowledged and included.

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