The Tech Ghiant Google has decided that most of its 200,000 employees and contractors should work from home through next June, a critical evaluation of the pandemic’s potential lingering strength by the company.
The remote-work order issued last month by the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, also affects other businesses owned by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. It marks a six-month addition of Google’s previous plan to keep most of its facilities locked throughout this year. “I know this extended timeline may come with mixed emotions and I want to make sure you’re taking care of yourselves,” wrote Pichai, who is also Alphabet’s CEO, in an email to employees.
The extended lockdown of Google’s offices could impact other major organization’s decisions to take similar precautions, given that the tech industry has been at the forefront of the shift to “work from home” culture that has been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the WHO announced a pandemic on March 11, Google and various other famous tech firms told their workers to work from home.
Google had initially planned to allow many employees to begin returning to its Mountain View, California, headquarters and other offices during the summer. But the pandemic’s continuing spread prompted Google to push back the reopening until January, and now it has prompted yet another delay.
Besides helping shield people from the virus, the new July 2021 target date for resuming Google’s offices should make it easier for employees with children to adjust to schoolhouses that aren’t allowing students to return to campus next month. It will also make it more comfortable for employees to sign one-year leases if they choose to rent a house somewhere else while working remotely.
“I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months,” Pichai penned.
Pichai’s email also described that Google and Alphabet had reopened some offices in 42 countries, although the specific countries are not mentioned.
But new guidelines mean Google’s biggest offices will remain mostly empty through June 2021. The decision affects more than 120,000 employees of Google and other Alphabet companies and 80,000 contractors that generally work on the companies’ campuses.
The ongoing pandemic has also provoked various other tech companies to notify their on-roll employees they won’t have to return to the office this year. Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, has taken the most radical step so far by telling his employees they will never have to return to the workplace if they don’t want. He is also extending a similar offer to Square’s workers, a payment processing service that he also runs.