Tyler Brown, a maps operator who was hired during the pandemic, estimated that he would have to spend $280 of his $1,000 biweekly pay on gas to drive his 2006 Toyota Sienna to the office, 73 miles away from his home in Olympia, Wash.
“I’m getting paid $19 an hour,” Mr. Brown said. “It doesn’t make sense for me to continue to do” the job. He plans to quit if the return-to-office plan goes ahead.
William Houser, a geospatial data specialist, also said he was wary of a long, expensive commute. His 100-mile round trip each day from Puyallup, Wash., would take more than four hours total. He started the job in April 2021, 13 months after Google closed its offices.
The Cognizant employees expressed other concerns. They said managers had given them 40 days’ notice to work in person, not a promised 60-day minimum. That means less time to find child care or move. And they are afraid of contracting Covid-19 in the office.
That’s of particular concern to Shelby Hunter, a policy trainer who has had four lung operations. He said his bosses had told him that the return-to-office plan had no medical exemptions.
“I like knowing the work I do makes a difference,” Mr. Hunter said. “It just feels like I’ve been disrespected.”
Google, which expanded its office footprint throughout the coronavirus pandemic, has used perks like free electric scooters and a concert by the pop star Lizzo to entice 164,000 employees to return to campuses. The search giant approved 85 percent of employees’ requests to work remotely or transfer to a different location last year.