Google Delays Office Return Until 10 January 2022

Google has followed other leading companies in the technology space and confirmed that its staff will only return to the office on Monday 10th January next year.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a blog post and email to all staff, that it was extending the firm’s voluntary return to office or campus until 2022.

The decision comes amid ongoing concern caused by high infection rates of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which continues to ravage parts of the United States, and many countries around the world.

Office delay

The ongoing issues caused by infections has prompted many firms to reconsider their policies for wearing masks in the office, and whether to order all returning staff to be vaccinated.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a humbling challenge for all of us and I continue to be impressed by the way our teams are navigating through it,” noted Pichai. “In spite of these challenges, I’m happy to say that a large number of offices globally are already open for business, and we are welcoming back tens of thousands of Googlers on a voluntary basis.”

Pichai explained that as offices continue to reopen, Google hopes to see more teams coming together where possible.

But uncertainty about the pandemic has caused the firm to delay a full re-opening.

“For some locations, conditions are starting to improve, yet in many parts of the world the pandemic continues to create uncertainty,” said Pichai. “Acknowledging that, we’ll extend our global voluntary return-to-office policy through January 10, 2022 to give more Googlers flexibility and choice as they ramp back.”

And after that, Google will allow local decisions to be made about office returns.

“Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions, which vary greatly across our offices,” said Pichai. “To make sure everyone has ample time to plan, you’ll have a 30-day heads-up before you’re expected back in the office.”

Pichai also announced that the firm is “encouraging Googlers to rest and recharge during this time remains a big priority so we will plan two more global reset days next quarter: Oct 22 and Dec 17.”

“The road ahead may be a little longer and bumpier than we hoped, yet I remain optimistic that we will get through it together,” said Pichai. “It’s heartening to see Googlers starting to come back to more offices globally.”

“The ability to reconnect in person has been re-energising for many of us, and will make us even more effective in the weeks and months ahead,” he concluded. “Thanks for all the great work thus far; look forward to a busy Q4 as we continue to find new ways to be helpful to people everywhere.”

Other delays

Google is not the first to opt to extend remote working until 2022.

On 5 August Amazon confirmed office staff can only return by 3 January 2022 because of the surge in Covid-19 cases in the US from the Delta variant.

Then on 12 August, Facebook scrapped its plans to reopen its offices by October, and announced that “recent health data showing rising Covid cases based on the delta variant, our teams in the US will not be required to go back to the office until January 2022.”

On 19 August Apple told its staff that they would not be returning to the office until January 2022 at the earliest.

Ride hailing firm Lyft has set a return date for corporate workers on 2 February 2022.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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