Google has announced that some of its US employees have the option of returning to the office this month while Amazon says its workers won’t come back until the fall.
According to USA Today, google told staff on Wednesday that offices would be reopening in a limited capacity.
‘Because the situation remains dynamic, we continue taking a phased and deliberate approach to safely bringing more people back to the office where we can,’ Google said.
Tech giants, including Google, were among the first to send employees home when the pandemic started to spread across the US more than a year ago.
Google said returning to work in April isn’t mandatory, adding that all employees aren’t required to return to the office until at least September.
Google (file image of Mountain View office) has announced that some of its US employees have the option of returning to the office this month. The company told staff on Wednesday that offices would be reopening in a limited capacity
It’s unclear how many employees will be allowed in Google’s offices.
Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, Google and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home.
Google had originally planned to allow a significant number of employees to begin returning to its Mountain View, California, headquarters and other offices during the summer of 2020.
But the pandemic’s ongoing spread pushed back the company’s reopening.
Google’s biggest offices have been largely unoccupied. The decision affected more than 123,000 employees on the payroll of Google and other Alphabet companies, as well as 80,000 contractors that normally work on the companies’ campuses.
Meanwhile, Amazon confirmed Wednesday that the company still plans to have its employees return to the office by fall.
The company had previously given its return-to-office date as June 30, but questions remained as to whether the company would allow some of its 60,000 Seattle-area office employees to continue working from home part time.
‘Our plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline,’ Amazon said. ‘We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.’
Amazon will not require office workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they return, but the company is encouraging employees and contractors to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, according to Amazon spokesperson Jose Negrete.
Google’s decision last year prompted other tech giants to follow its lead with companies like Facebook also telling employees that they should plan to work remotely until 2021.
At the time, Amazon and Microsoft both said their employees should expect to stay home until at least October 2021.
But as COVID-19 vaccinations rollout across the country, tech giants have started announcing plans to allow employees to come back to work.
It’s unclear how many employees would be allowed in Google’s offices (aerial image of Google’s Mountain View, California, office)
According to USA Today, Facebook said it plans to reopen its offices in the San Francisco Bay Area at 10 per cent capacity in May.
Facebook, Twitter and Square had previously said they’d be allowing employees to work from home permanently, which led to the development of remote or hybrid working structures.
Microsoft began bringing workers back to its suburban Seattle global headquarters on March 29.
In a post Monday on the company’s corporate blog, Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene said Microsoft has been monitoring local health data and decided it can bring more employees back to its Redmond, Washington, campus.
DelBene said workers will have the choice to return to headquarters, continue working remotely or do a combination of both.
More than 50,000 people work at the company’s headquarters campus in Redmond, 15 miles east of Seattle.
On Monday, Washington state moved into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan, meaning all of the state’s 39 counties will be allowed to relax coronavirus restrictions.
Under Phase 3, all indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers, and retail — can increase capacity from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
Larger events like concerts and graduation ceremonies will also be OK since up to 400 people will be allowed to gather for indoor and outdoor activities as long as physical distancing and masking are enforced.