On Wednesday last week, Google’s Fiona Cicconi wrote to company employees.
She announced that Google was bringing forward its timetable of moving people back into the office.
As of 1 September, she said, employees wishing to work from home for more than 14 days would have to apply to do so.
Employees were also expected to “live within commuting distance” of offices. No cocktails by the beach with a laptop, then.
The intention was very clear. Sure, you can do more flexible working than you did before – but most people will still have to come into the office.
That thinking seemed to fly in the face of much of what we heard from Silicon Valley executives last year, when they championed the virtues of remote working.
For example, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey made headlines across the world last May, when he said “Twitter employees can now work from home forever”.
It was speculated that after Covid, the “new normal” for Silicon Valley might be a workforce heavily geared around remote working, with tech companies needing only minimal staff on-site.
It’s increasingly looking like that’s not going to happen.
And if you really look at the statements made by tech bosses, some of the nuances were skirted over by the press.
For example, when Mr Dorsey said employees could work at home “forever”, he added, ” if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home.”
That was a pretty important “if”.
And in fact, Twitter has clarified that it expects a majority of its staff to spend some time working from home and some time in the office.
Pretty much every Silicon Valley tech firm has said that it is now committed to “flexible” or “hybrid” working.
The problem is those terms can mean almost anything.
Is that Fridays off? Or a completely different working relationship with a brick-and-mortar office?