Google has unveiled its plans for a gradual reopening as America attempts to rebound after the coronavirus lockdown. CEO Sundar Pichai told staffers who want to return to their offices that the company will start out at 10% of building capacity on July 6 with a 30% capacity by September.
In an emailed blog post (read it below), he added that Google employees who prefer to continue working remotely will be able to expense as much as $1,000 for furniture and equipment. Those who opt to return will do so on a rotating basis, and workers who are required to return to their offices will be notified by June 10, Pichai said.
‘Moving ahead, we are looking to develop more overall flexibility in how we work,’ the CEO wrote. “The office will look and feel different than when you left it.”
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He added that “rigorous health and safety measures” will be in place at Google offices.
The Alphabet-owned company was among several tech giants including Apple, Facebook and Amazon that urged their staffers to work from home as early as the first week of March.
Here is Pichai’s full blog post from Tuesday; all boldface is his:
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. We’re also investing more in your work-from-home setup to make sure you have what you need to be productive and comfortable.
Beginning July 6, assuming external conditions allow, we’ll start to open more buildings in more cities. 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. Our goal is to be fair in the way we allocate time in the office, while limiting the number of people who come in, consistent with safety protocols.
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).
There are a limited number of Googlers whose roles are needed back in office this calendar year. If this applies to you, your manager will let you know by June 10. For everyone else, returning to the office will be voluntary through the end of the year, and we encourage you to continue to work from home if you can.
While some of you have expressed interest in coming back to the office, others have asked whether it’s okay to temporarily relocate to another place to be closer to family while you’re working from home. Please talk with your manager if you are considering this, and review the guidelines, which include important information about a number of personal factors you should consider (such as your tax filings and health coverage/eligibility).
Moving ahead, we are looking to develop more overall flexibility in how we work. 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. 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.
Because we still expect that most Googlers will be largely working from home for the rest of this year, we’ll be giving each Googler an allowance of $1,000 USD, or the equivalent value in your country, to expense necessary equipment and office furniture.
Finally, we continue to experiment with sharing more of our in-office experiences virtually, with a focus on health, wellness, and fun. A couple of examples: fitness with gFit instructors, cooking and nutrition lessons from Google chefs, and Kids@Home Storytime.
We’ll share more specifics on the return to office plan and answer questions on this topic at upcoming forums. Thank you for everything you are doing to support our users and partners. It’s important work that is making a big difference.
Please continue to take good care of yourselves and one another.
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