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Google will no longer hold weekly all-hands meetings amid growing workplace tensions

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Via CNBC

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks to the media before the opening of the Berlin representation of Google Germany in Berlin on January 22, 2019.

Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Google is getting rid of one of its best-known workplace features: TGIF, its weekly all-hands meeting.

The company confirmed to CNBC that it will instead hold monthly all-hands meetings that will be focused on business and strategy while holding separate town halls for “workplace issues.” An email announcing the change was previously reported by The Verge.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started TGIFs in 1999 as a forum where employees could regularly express concerns and discuss topics open and freely with management. At that time, the company was small enough to fit in a meeting room, but the all-hands continued to grow as the employee base grew — until recently, that is. Page and Brin stopped attending regularly in 2019. A company spokesperson said that the meetings had recently become a bi-weekly instead of weekly occurrence.

The new model comes as the company cracks down on the open work culture that’s long been part of its identity of holding free discussion. Employees have increasingly voiced their concerns about everything from the handling of sexual harassment to government hires and contracts. In recent months, employees have leaked meeting notes to the media, which have shown growing tension between executives and workers.

During the summer, it said it would ban political discussions from internal messaging forums. In late October, CEO Sundar Pichai said, in a leaked video, that the company was “genuinely struggling” with employee trust.

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“In other places — like TGIF — our scale is challenging us to evolve,” Pichai said in a memo to employees this week. “TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it’s not working in its current form.”

In his note, Pichai alluded to recent leaks that employees have given to media.

“We’re unfortunately seeing a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF,” the note reportedly states. “I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.

Pichai’s note also stated that only 25% of Google employees watch TGIF any given week, compared to 80% a decade ago. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who used to attend regularly, reportedly stopped regularly attending in early 2019.

“People come to TGIF with different expectations,” the note stated. “Some people come to hear more about Google’s product launches and business strategies, others come to hear answers on other topics. By splitting the difference every week, we’re not serving either purpose very well.”

The note stated that Google’s TGIF team will set up “small group discussions” for feedback on the changes.

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