Google Delays Office Return Until January Due to COVID-19: See What CEO Sundar Pichai Told Employees

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Alphabet-owned Google is extending its voluntary return-to-office policy through January next year, CEO Sundar Pichai said on Tuesday, citing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of the world.

The rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant is also making companies reconsider their mask mandates and vaccination policies.

“Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions,” Pichai said in an email to employees.

Hi Googlers,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a humbling challenge for all of us and I continue to be impressed by the way our teams are navigating through it. In spite of these challenges, I’m happy to say that a large number of offices globally are already open for business, and we are welcoming back tens of thousands of Googlers on a voluntary basis. Given that conditions around the world are still highly variable, I wanted to share how we’re planning to approach the next few months:

  • First, 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. For some locations, conditions are starting to improve, yet in many parts of the world the pandemic continues to create uncertainty. Acknowledging that, we’ll extend our global voluntary return-to-office policy through January 10, 2022 to give more Googlers flexibility and choice as they ramp back.
  • 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. To make sure everyone has ample time to plan, you’ll have a 30-day heads-up before you’re expected back in the office.
  • Finally, encouraging Googlers to rest and recharge during this time remains a big priority so we will plan two more global reset days next quarter: October 22 and December 17. 

The road ahead may be a little longer and bumpier than we hoped, yet I remain optimistic that we will get through it together. 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. Thanks for all the great work thus far; look forward to a busy Q4 as we continue to find new ways to be helpful to people everywhere. 

-Sundar

In the last few weeks, companies including Amazon and Lyft delayed their return-to-office timelines to 2022 for US workers due to the pandemic.

Google had earlier delayed its return-to-office policy from September to October. It was one of the first companies to ask its employees to work from home due to the health crisis.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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