Meta to use work badge and Status Tool to snoop on staff

Not in office three days a week? Repeated 'violations' could lead to termination

Tough times loom for Meta engineers and the wider workforce that refuse to return to the office for at least three days a week following a warning from HR of the potential career-ending consequences of non-compliance.

Just like Google, Amazon, and others, the parent of Facebook is starting to police the return to office more vigilantly because clearly not everyone is on board.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg said in March that engineers who joined prior to the pandemic and worked in the classic office setup were performing better than remote workers that rocked up during the pandemic.

This "hypothesis," he said at the time, needed further study and Zuck encouraged all to get back into the workplace together. By June, Meta mandated all employees to come in three days a week. "We're committed to distributed work, and we're confident people can make a meaningful impact both from the office and at home," it told us.

Yet plenty of folk obviously ignored the direction of travel, and Meta is now said to be upping the pressure by monitoring the workforce as Google, Amazon, and Salesforce are – through company badges.

This week, Lori Goler, Meta's head of people (HR boss to you and I), wrote in an internal forum called Workplace that staff "assigned to an office" will be expected to come in or partake in in-person work for the three days.

"Accountability will be central to making this fair and effective," she stated, according to Insider. Staff that have already pre-approved working conditions that allow them to deviate from the policy are allowed to keep doing so. The in-person expectation kicks in from next month.

Goler said managers will be tasked with staying on top of attendance. "Managers will review badge and Status Tool information on a monthly basis and follow up with those who didn't meet the requirement, subject to local law and works council requirements."

"As with other company policies, repeated violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including a performance rating drop and, ultimately, termination if not addressed."

Goler said that after 18 months those with glowing appraisals can apply to be fully remote, and will only be able to come into an office four days out of every two months.

This from a company that wants the world to reside inside a metaverse of its own construction.

We have asked Meta what percentage of staff are coming in for the requisite three days, how the policy fits with the UK's recently passed Flexible Working bill, and for more details on how it will be policed.

A spokesperson sent a statement to The Reg: "We believe that distributed work will continue to be important in the future, particularly as our technology improves. In the near term, our in-person focus is designed to support a strong, valuable experience for our people who have chosen to work from the office, and we're being thoughtful and intentional about where we invest in remote work."

Just this week, a survey indicated that 80 percent of executives actually regret mandating a return to the office, and Atlassian said last month these initiatives destroy staff morale and slow innovation.

Today, global workplace consultancy AWA said tech businesses are the ones making the biggest shift back to the office, according to a study of 119 workplaces in 22 countries.

Andrew Mawson, founder of AWA, said: "Most major tech companies are mandating some form of in-office work including Meta, Amazon, Apple, and more recently, Zoom.

"However, we continue to believe we have reached a steady state on hybrid working. Savvy employers are using the new reality to become more efficient, improving desk use and reducing their real estate needs. We expect this to result in a gradual build-up of empty office space over the next 5-10 years as leases expire, with a resultant downward pressure on rents and asset values." ®

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