Navigating a return to the office amid COVID-19 variants, millions quitting their jobs, and the looming threat of a third World War has been challenging for everyone. One company that has struggled most noticeably is Google
Originally, Google wanted its staff to return to the office on 18 October three days a week, before pushing this date back to January 2022.
Predictably, this date was once again reconsidered as the Omicron variant persisted to wreak havoc. Over the course of the pandemic, the company also shifted from a desire to have everyone in the office full-time to a hybrid policy.
Now, Google has a return date. A select number of US offices will open for three days a week starting 4 April.
Google announces a return to the office
In an internal message, John Casey, Google’s vice president of global benefits, stated that offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and “several other US locations” will reopen.
The message obtained by CNBC went on to say: “Our hybrid model balances the best of being together in person and being anywhere — where teams can intentionally come together to collaborate and connect in the office, and spend the other days working from wherever best suits their needs.”
In terms of what days are selected, various teams will be able to assess the situation and give staff the option to come more often. However, some employees will be subject to a more permanent station in the office “due to the nature of their work.”
Despite this condition for certain groups of workers, the memo highlighted the flexibility the company offers. It stated that workers “around the world have transferred to a new location or moved to fully remote work,” and noted that 85% of those applications to change working space had been approved.
Additionally, Google employees can “explore flexible work options including ‘work from anywhere’ weeks”, as well as the option to work in other Google locations.
The reasoning behind this decision was also provided in the message. While acknowledging the hardship the workforce had endured, Casey stated: “The advances in prevention and treatment, the steady decline in cases that we continue to see, and the improved safety measures we have implemented across our Bay Area sites now mean we can officially begin the transition to the hybrid workweek.”
Prior to this announcement, Google had altered its vaccine policy. The company now doesn’t require all employees to be vaccinated, although those coming into the office must be jabbed failing an accepted exemption.
In a turbulent world, time will tell whether Google’s office return is here to stay.