Google expects that 60 percent of the roughly 140,000 employees worldwide will spend about three days a week in the office after the 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 workers will come to the office “a few days a week,” 20 percent are expected to work from home permanently, while another 20 percent work from new office locations.
The search giant is the latest technology company to announce major shifts in its post-pandemic work culture. Microsoft allows employees to work from home for up to 50 percent of the work week, or to work remotely permanently with the permission of their manager. Meanwhile, Salesforce, the owner of Slack, has stated that the “9 to 5 day workday is over,” 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 allow employees to work from home or remotely indefinitely.
… spend part of the year in another city, or even move there permanently. Google’s future workplace will have room for all these possibilities. We’re transitioning to a hybrid workweek with most Googlers in the office about three days a week.
– Sundar Pichai (undsundarpichai) May 6, 2021
While Google says the majority of its employees will work from the office about three days a week, it also says it will make it easier for employees to switch offices or work remotely. Employees can request to move from the office with the permission of their manager, or to work remotely. Meanwhile, under a ‘work-from-anywhere-weeks’ policy, Googlers can work temporarily outside their headquarters for up to four weeks per year. Pichai says Google will provide more details about the changes in mid-June, around the same time it is introducing a process that allows employees to request 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, including inflatable robotic walls to create temporary dividing lines between open desks, and a “fabric-based air duct system” that can be unpacked and moved over a weekend to create new seating arrangements.
Google employees in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa were told last March to work from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the company’s US offices opened on a limited basis, asking employees to follow safety guidelines such as wearing masks and practicing social distance if they wanted to enter. In his memo, Pichai says that in places where Google has its offices, nearly 60 percent of employees have opted to come back in.