As big tech grapples with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Google has opted to allow employees to work from home through June of next year for roles that do not need to report in-person to perform their jobs, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced this week.
“To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Pichai wrote in an email to employees, a spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo. The Wall Street Journal first reported the extended work-from-home policy, which will extend to roughly 200,000 contract and full-time employees.
Google had previously told its workforce to plan for a return to the office at the start of next year. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that the move took into consideration the situations faced by Google employees with families and those employees who choose to move and may need to sign year-long lease agreements.
Presently, education for school-age children remains uncertain in many parts of the U.S. as outbreaks continue and as in the absence of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus strain, which causes the potentially deadly covid-19 disease. The U.S. has had well over 4 million positive cases of covid-19 confirmed and is nearing 150,000 deaths as of Monday, according to the most recent data from John Hopkins University.
According to the Journal, Pichai informed Google employees that the information the company is gathering during this about work from home policies will “inform our approach to the future of work at Google.”
Google’s policy positions the company as among the more cautious tech companies in terms of planning timelines. But some companies have opted to allow employees to continue working remotely indefinitely. In May, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey informed employees that they could continue working from home forever, excepting roles like those for server maintenance that require in-person attendance. In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that employees would work from home through the start of next year but also announced that staff could request permanent work-from-home agreements.
“The reality is that I don’t think it’s going to be that we wake up one day on January first and nobody has any more concerns about this,” Zuckerberg said at the time, per Recode. Zuckerberg estimated that roughly half of Facebook’s workforce would eventually switch to permanent remote work.
Others appear to be planning for an eventual return to physical spaces. Amazon has said that per clearances from local governments, the company “will provide teams with options to gradually return to their office or to continue working from home.” Bloomberg reported in May that Apple, meanwhile, was planning to bring employees back to its offices in phases.