Google pushes back employees’ return to offices

Earliest that offices will reopen is September 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Getty; iStock)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Getty; iStock)

Though the Covid-19 vaccine is beginning to make its way to the U.S., it’s unlikely that widespread inoculation will happen until next year — and some companies, including Google, are continuing to play it safe until then.

The tech giant announced that it will once again push back its employees’ return to the company’s offices; now, the remote work period will continue until September 2021, the New York Times reported.

In addition, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, said in an email to the staff on Sunday night, that the company would be testing the idea of a “flexible workweek” once it’s safe to return to the office, according to the publication. Under the pilot plan, employees would be expected to work in the office at least three days a week while working from home the other days.

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The company also plans to roll out new office designs in areas with lower coronavirus risk, offering employees options such as booking collaborative spaces for up to a dozen people and securing outdoor meeting spaces for larger groups. Google said it was also developing new ways to bridge the gap between the experience of remote workers and office workers.
Google was among the earliest companies to initiate large-scale work-from-home plans at the onset of the pandemic in March. Google’s original plan was to bring back employees to office in January 2021, but it pushed the timing back to July, and now September.

The company’s direction could affect the future of office real estate. Google is one of the biggest office tenants in major metro markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicaco. In New York, the tech giant is in the process of transforming Manhattan’s Hudson Square with its new 1.7-million-square-foot campus. As of November 2018, Google occupied 3.35 million square feet and owned 4.7 million square feet in New York City, according to Yardi Matrix data.

[NYT] — Akiko Matsuda