Google has yet again postponed a full return to the office, announcing that its employees can continue to work remotely until next year. The decision follows similar ones already made by the company’s tech industry peers like Facebook and Amazon.
Google (GOOGL) workers around the world will not be required to return to their offices until at least Jan. 10, 2022, CEO Sundar Pichai said in a note to employees on Tuesday. (The policy only applies to Google (GOOGL) and not its parent company Alphabet, a company spokesperson said).
“Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions, which vary greatly across our offices,” he said, adding that employees will get “a 30-day heads-up” before they are required to come back.
The decision marks the second time in recent months that Google has delayed a full office return — it had previously pushed it from September to October — illustrating how much of a moving target reopening continues to be as the coronavirus Delta variant spreads.
Big tech firms that took the lead in sending corporate workers home at the start of the pandemic are now being more cautious in bringing them back.
Facebook and Amazon both announced earlier this month that they will not require workers to return until January, while Lyft has set a date of Feb 2. Others, including Apple, Microsoft and Uber, are currently sticking to their plans to reopen in October this year.
Google has changed its policies multiple times, initially requiring employees to come back to their pre-pandemic offices at least three days a week but subsequently allowing them to apply for permanent remote work or a change in their office location.
Around 10,000 employees have applied to change where they work from as of July 2, Google said Tuesday, with 45% seeking to remain permanently remote and 55% wanting to switch offices. The company approved 85% of those requests, it added.