Most Google employees will have the option to not return to work from the company’s more than 100 offices around the world until at least next summer as the COVID-19 pandemic rages in the US and other countries.
CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to Google staff this week noting successes in bringing employees back to the office in many countries where local conditions have improved.
“In other parts of the world, we haven’t reopened more widely,” he said, referring in part to the United States, where Google employees are still on a mandatory work-from-home order until the end of the year.
With varying restrictions still in place in many countries and municipalities, and employees trying to make long-term plans for where they reside and how they manage their lives during the crisis, Google decided to extend a global voluntary work-from-home option through the end of June 2021. That will remain in effect regardless of progress in combating the pandemic before then.
That voluntary option, however, only applies to non-essential employees that “don’t need to be in the office,” he said.
Pichai instructed Google employees around the world to look to their local leaders for continuing updates.
“With robust health and safety protocols in place, we have opened offices in 42 different countries and hope to reopen in many more as conditions permit,” Pichai said.
The Wall Street Journal reported the extension of a voluntary work-from-home period will impact some 200,000 employees, both salaried and contract, across Alphabet, Google’s parent—a decision that could influence other tech companies still eyeing a January return.
On March 10, as the novel disease was erupting into a full-blown pandemic, Google advised its employees across North America to work remotely when possible over the next month to help halt the outbreak.
That initial memo also stipulated for employees whose “roles allow” to consider staying home—essentially changing what had been a voluntary option to a recommended one for all North American offices. But, according to a Google employee, that later became a mandatory order extending to 31 December.
“We are still learning a lot from our experiences of working from home and will use that knowledge to inform our approach to the future of work at Google. I look forward to discussing this more with you in the coming weeks,” Pichai wrote on Monday.