Google's Return to the Office Pushed Back as Covid-19 Cases Rise Again

Google will now require employees to return beginning January 2022, and even then, it sounds like it's negotiable.

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A photo of a shadowed-out person with a mask walking by the Google headquarters in NYC
Google employees won’t be returning to the office this year.
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

It looks like Big Tech workers won’t be returning to a physical office this year after all. After exhaustively detailing the measures it would be taking to help ease employees back into the office, Google is pushing back the official return date from Oct. 18 to Jan. 10, 2022.

Google will leave it up to the respective offices and staff in each region to decide whether to return to the office, because there’s been so much disparity in vaccinated populations and covid-19 cases around the globe. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that those required back in the office would receive at least a 30-day notice. It’s similar to the policy Google had in place for the original October re-opening, which was already pretty flexible. Google has already said it would allow some workers to apply for complete remote work within the company.

Google isn’t the only tech giant pushing back the return to the physical office. Apple pushed back its return date from October to January 2022, following complaints that it was asking employees to return too soon. Facebook, Amazon, and Lyft have also announced return-to-office start dates in January 2022. Google and Facebook will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to in-person work, while Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would consider whether mandatory vaccinations were “the right answer.”


Either way, Silicon Valley only knows as much as the rest of us, which is that we’re still in the thick of a raging pandemic that’s likely to become endemic, with official forecasts predicting there are more cases to come. And unless mask usage and vaccines increase exponentially in the next few weeks, remote tech workers should probably also expect another delay to return to the office.