Google Delays Mandatory Return to Office Until January, Citing Pandemic Uncertainty

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

Google has announced it is pushing back the date when employees will be required to head back to offices, citing uncertainty around the dynamics of the outbreak.

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, said in an Aug. 31 blog post that the tech giant is extending its current voluntary return-to-office policy until Jan. 10 to “give more Googlers flexibility and choice as they ramp back.”

Google was one of the first companies to offer work-from-home options when the pandemic struck. While some firms, like Twitter, have made remote working a permanent option for staff, Google sees benefits from in-office work arrangements that it is reluctant to part with and has not followed suit.

“As offices continue to reopen, we hope to see more teams coming together where possible, whether it be for regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions around a whiteboard, or outdoor socials,” Pichai wrote.

A large number of Google offices across the world have already reopened and are welcoming back staff on a voluntary basis, Pichai said.

“It’s heartening to see Googlers starting to come back to more offices globally. The ability to reconnect in person has been re-energizing for many of us, and will make us even more effective in the weeks and months ahead,” Pichai wrote.

Citing “highly variable” pandemic conditions across the world, Pichai said countries and locations where Google has offices will be allowed to make their own calls about when staff must resume in-office work.

“For some locations, conditions are starting to improve, yet in many parts of the world the pandemic continues to create uncertainty,” he wrote. “Beyond Jan. 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.”

Staff will be given 30 days’ notice before they’re expected to be back in the office, Pichai said, adding that employees will be given two “global reset days” off to rest and recharge during the next quarter.

“The road ahead may be a little longer and bumpier than we hoped, yet I remain optimistic that we will get through it together,” Pichai wrote.

This is not the first time Google has extended its voluntary remote work arrangement, with Pichai telling staff in July that they could continue to work from home through Oct. 18.

In that message, Pichai announced that anyone coming to work on Google premises would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

In May, Pichai said that, in places where Google has reopened its offices, around 60 percent of Google staff had chosen to come back.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'