The CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet has told staff that the firm will begin reopening some of its offices in early July.
The move is the first stage of Google returning to normal operations in a post Coronavirus world, but there will be strict restrictions on staff numbers in order to maintain appropriate social-distancing.
The Google move comes after a growing number of tech firms are giving staff the ability work from home forever if they want.
Last week Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed he will allow staff to work from home permanently, if they so decide.
He expects that about half of Facebook’s 48,000 workforce would work remotely over the next five to 10 years.
Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify also recently said that it will keep its offices closed until 2021, and after that will allow staff to work from home permanently.
Twitter and Square revealed that their respective staff can opt to work from home ‘forever’ if they want, or return or the office, post Coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month Google said their staff can work from home until the end of the year. Google previously said that Google staff could working from home until 1 June.
But on Tuesday Google CEO Sundar Pichai told staff that the company plans to reopen “more buildings in more cities” starting 6 July.
However he did not specify which cities or even which countries.
“As mentioned in our last TGIF, we’ll be approaching the return to office with a gradual, phased approach, taking both team and individual needs and preferences into account: we are taking slow, deliberate steps to begin re-opening offices in areas where they still remain largely closed,” he wrote in a blog post.
“Beginning July 6, assuming external conditions allow, we’ll start to open more buildings in more cities,” he wrote. “This will give Googlers who need to come back to the office – or, capacity permitting, who want to come back – the opportunity to return on a limited, rotating basis (think: one day every couple of weeks, so roughly 10 percent building occupancy).”
“We’ll have rigorous health and safety measures in place to ensure social distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed, so the office will look and feel different than when you left,” he said. “In the September timeframe (again, assuming conditions allow), we will further scale the rotation program, building over time to 30 percent capacity (which would mean most people who want to come in could do so on a limited basis, while still prioritizing those who need to come in).”
“Moving ahead, we are looking to develop more overall flexibility in how we work,” he wrote. Our campuses are designed to enable collaboration and community – in fact, some of our greatest innovations were the result of chance encounters in the office – and it’s clear this is something many of us don’t want to lose.”
“At the same time, we are very familiar with distributed work as we have many offices around the world and open-minded about the lessons we’ll learn through this period,” he wrote. “We continue to study all the data and feedback you’re sharing on your current experience. I believe that ultimately these insights will lead to more flexibility and choice for employees as they consider how to work in the future.”
Pichai concluded by saying that Google still expects that “most Googlers will be largely working from home for the rest of this year.”
It is giving staff $1,000 to expense necessary equipment and office furniture.
Meanwhile Amazon is known to have told staff who can work ‘effectively’ from home can do so until at least 2 October, however that does not include warehouse staff.
Microsoft is also reportedly allowing staff members to work from home until October.
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