Google has delayed its return to the office until September next year and will experiment with a hybrid model allowing certain employees to work from home part of the week, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told staff.
Pichai emailed employees on Sunday about plans to test a flexible working week once coronavirus conditions are safe for people to return, reported the The New York Times.
Google employees would work three days in the office and the rest of the week at home under the new plan.
Pichai said Google is testing whether such a model would lead to greater productivity and employee wellbeing.
“We are testing a hypothesis that a flexible work model will lead to greater productivity, collaboration, and well-being,” Pichai wrote. “No company at our scale has ever created a fully hybrid work force model — though a few are starting to test it — so it will be interesting to try.”
Facebook, Twitter and Square have previously announced they would permanently extend their work from home policies.
Alphabet was one of the earliest technology companies to go completely remote as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, telling employees in March to work from home to support social distancing. It previously said it would keep its 200,000 full-time and contract employees working remotely until July 2021.
It has been forced to push that date back again with the number of COVID-19 deaths in the US passing 300,000 on Monday, with cases continuing to surge across most of the country.
The alarming figure came as US hospitals began inoculations on Monday with healthcare workers receiving the first doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with nearly three million injections planned in the first week. Trump Administration officials expect there will be enough doses to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of this year, contingent on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration later this week