Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I / O Developers Conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
Google is delaying the return of employees to its offices until September 1, and expects employees to report to work in person for at least three days a week after that, according to an email from CEO Sundar Pichai.
Email, seen and reported by CNBC New York times, A link to a FAQ that details further expectations for the return of the office, including the expectation that workers will live “within commuting distance” from offices.
“When we closed most of our offices in March, we did not know the path the epidemic would take,” Pichai said in an email to employees Sunday evening. “We have adapted. We keep innovating. With new vaccines on the horizon, thanks to the incredible ingenuity of our medical and scientific community, a return to normality is now on the horizon.”
Pichai’s memo marks a delay in the return of the office and Google’s most detailed plan yet to reinstate its workforce of more than 130,000 employees amid the ongoing pandemic. It was not immediately clear how much of the new plans would apply to Google or other Alphabet contractors.
In July, Google became the first major company to publish Advertise It will allow employees the option to work from home until mid-2021, which is an extension of its previous schedule. In September, Google said it had begun work on the “mixed” Business model, with most employees saying they want to return to the office at some point, but not full time.
Other competing tech companies, such as Twitter, The social networking site Facebook, He said, employees could work remotely “forever” or within the next decade, allowing employees to move to other areas if they wanted to.
Google employees had been hoping for similar flexibility. But the December 14 note indicates that Google will have more stringent requirements than these competitors.
Employees in areas that are not at high risk are expected to spend at least three days in the office and two days at home or wherever they work best, as the Beachy email states. They will also have the option to reserve collaboration spaces for up to ten people and outdoor spaces for larger team gatherings. It will also contain “bookable” desks for employees who want to work in a quiet location, Pichai said.
The pilot will not apply to everyone. Pichai noted that flexibility may not apply to employees in customer-facing roles who “spend a lot of time with clients,” those who need to be on-site in data centers or laboratories, or those who rely on specialized equipment to operate.
Pichai’s email directs employees to read our FAQs in full, and it’s a long website with more details about office returns. In it, the company says employees will need to return to the office assigned to them, adding that it believes teams work better when “anchored in joint ventures,” according to Q&A that CNBC has seen.
“You will need to work from the Google office assigned to you, and it is expected that you will live within commuting distance between the offices assigned to you,” the company said. “We are actively investing in our center’s strategy to create more roles – and options – in the global offices over time.”
Pichai’s note says the company will set up display booths in the office “designed to send professional quality broadcasts to large, distributed audiences.” It will also improve its Meet and Workspace products to “better bridge the gap between colleagues who work from the office and those who work from home.”
“Collaboration within the office will be as important to Google’s future as it is to our past,” Pichai said in the email on Sunday. “The unpredictability that still awaits in many areas creates some interesting challenges.”
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Pichai note.
Read the full note here:
Hey google employees,
When we closed most of our offices in March, we did not know which course the pandemic would take. The past few months have been particularly difficult as the virus has spread to many parts of the world. I know that some of us are in personal difficulties and lose loved ones who usually surround us at this time of year. More than ever, many of us rely on our colleagues at Google.
The good news is that over the past nine months we have learned how to work better by default. We have adapted. We keep innovating. With new vaccines appearing on the horizon, and thanks to the incredible ingenuity of our medical and scientific community, a return to normality is now on the horizon. So the question I know you have on your mind is: What is next?
First, we will continue to face the disparity in many regions of the world before life returns to normal. Our goal is to give Google employees everywhere the option to return as soon as local conditions allow, and it is encouraging to see that in some regions of Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Google employees have already returned to the office. Other areas are not too far away, so to help Google employees deal with the uncertainty that still awaits us, we will extend the home volunteer option until September 1, meaning if your role allows you to work from home until July 2021, you can now do so. Until early September 2021.
Second, we believe in-office collaboration will be just as important to the future of Google as it has been in our past. The unpredictability that still awaits us in many areas creates some interesting challenges and opportunities for us as we begin to bring Google employees back into the office. We’ll build on it and experiment with a series of experimental designs to improve productivity, collaboration, and overall well-being. Here’s what you can expect to see in 2021:
- The flexible work week workout: To eliminate the friction of commuting five days a week, we’re going to experiment with a hybrid model in which teams come together for “collaborative days” in the office and spend the other days doing the central work of the home or office. For locations that reach Level 2 in the risk assessment curve, we’ll introduce a 3/2 work week – a minimum of three days in the office and two at home (or wherever you work best). That pilot wouldn’t make sense for every role or every team – especially Google employees in customer-facing roles who spend a lot of time with clients or employees who need to be on-site in data centers or labs, or those who. Rely on specialized equipment to do their job – so please read the full FAQ and expect more guidance in 2021 from the main product or function.
- Flexible office design: In offices that reach levels 2, 3, and 4 in the risk assessment curves, you’ll see new options, such as bookable collaboration spaces for up to twelve people and outdoor spaces for large team gatherings. We’ll also have bookable desks for Google employees who want to evade single action in a quiet location (which, as we learned, isn’t always possible at home).
- New Collaboration Technology: We will continue to use our tools and spaces to ensure equal cooperation between the Google employees who work from home and the Google employees who sit together in the office. For example, we create in-office display booths designed to send professional-quality broadcasts to large, distributed audiences. We are also improving products like Meet and Workspace to better bridge the gap between colleagues who work from the office and those who work from home.
Ultimately, we are testing the hypothesis that a lean business model will increase productivity, collaboration and well-being. These goals have always been at the core of Google’s workplace philosophy and will remain our top priority as we plan ahead. No company in our range has ever created a fully hybrid workforce model – although few have begun testing it – so it will be interesting to try it out. We will treat these pilots with an innovative spirit and open mind, and carry out rigorous benchmarking along the way to help us learn and adapt.
I am excited by the opportunity to reimagine where we worked together and I’m sure you have many questions. We will continue to discuss in future forums and follow up early in 2021 in more detail.