Google expects 60 percent of its approximately 140,000 global employees to spend around three days in the office per week post-pandemic. The policy was announced in a company-wide memo by CEO Sundar Pichai, which was later published as a blog post and series of tweets. While Pichai said a majority of employees will come into the office “a few days a week,” 20 percent are expected to work from home permanently, with another 20 percent working from new office locations.
The search giant is the latest tech company to announce big shifts to its post-pandemic working culture. Microsoft will allow employees to freely work from home for up to 50 percent of the working week, or to work remotely on a permanent basis with their manager’s approval. Meanwhile Salesforce, owner of Slack, has declared that the “9-to-5 workday is dead,” with the majority of its employees coming into the office between one and three days a week. Twitter and Facebook have announced similar plans to let employees work from home or work remotely indefinitely.
While Google says the majority of its employees will work from the office around three days a week, it also says it’ll make it easier for employees to switch between offices or to work fully remotely. Employees will be able to apply to move offices with their manager’s approval, or to work entirely remotely. Meanwhile, a “work-from-anywhere weeks” policy will let Googlers temporarily work from places outside their main office for up to four weeks a year. Pichai says Google will provide more details on the changes by mid-June, around the same time it’s introducing process to allow employees to request office moves.
Pichai’s memo also briefly mentions the company’s experiments with future hybrid workplaces. A recent report in The New York Times outlined some of the design elements being explored, which include inflatable robot walls to create temporary divides between open plan desks, and a “fabric-based overhead air duct system” that can be unzipped and moved over a weekend to create new seating arrangements.
Google’s employees across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa were told to work from home last March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the company’s US offices opened on a limited basis, with employees asked to follow safety guidelines like wearing masks and practicing social distancing if they wanted to come in. In his memo, Pichai says that in places where Google has opened its offices almost 60 percent of employees have chosen to come back in.