Returning to offices has proved difficult for many enterprises. However, Google appears to have struggled more than most.
The world-famous search engine has repeatedly delayed putting staff back into their offices throughout the year.
Originally, the company had intended to begin hybrid working on October 18th with employees attending physical offices three days a week, before pushing this date back to January 2022. Now it is unclear when employees will return.
CNBC reported that the latest announcement, which came from company security VP Chris Rackow, says Google will wait to reassess a large-scale office return in the new year. The specific reason for this decision was not given.
However, the company is still calling on staff to return to the office on an ad-hoc basis “where conditions allow, to reconnect with colleagues in person and start regaining the muscle memory of being in [one] more regularly.”
Google has opened up 90% of its offices in the US, and around 40% of employees have come into work. Nonetheless, it is evident that the company is struggling to implement a blanket office working policy and cannot persuade the majority of staff to return to office spaces.
With many companies successfully adapting to a hybrid model, many will wonder about the challenges Google is facing, as well as its larger future of work plans.
Throughout the pandemic, Google has been keen to get employees back to the office full-time once it was safe to do so. This is illustrated by its move to stop renting its St John’s Terminal building and buy it for $2.1 billion.
On top of that, the company made headlines as it considered docking the pay of those who choose to move away from offices and work remotely. This is in contrast to a broadly favored hybrid working model being implemented by many other employers.
In addition, Google has been facing protests by workers around a vaccine mandate for everyone, irrespective of whether they are working from the office or home.
Of course, there is also a factor beyond the control of the company, the mutations of COVID-19. The omicron variant of the virus has approximately 50 mutations and there are concerns about how vaccines can help combat the new strain.
This will have undoubtedly played a part in Google’s change of return to office plans.
With the ever-changing situation and uncertainty of office space within Google, many will now feel that the possibility of changing pay based on remote work is unlikely. Nonetheless, employees will want clarity on the company’s intentions sooner rather than later.
Looking ahead, Rackow said: “We will be re-learning our working rhythms together in 2022, which brings new opportunities and new challenges as we experiment with more flexible ways of working.”
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