The Google logo on the front of an office building.
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Google extends remote working policy to July 2021

27 Jul 2020

According to reports, almost all of Alphabet and Google’s 200,000 employees and contractors will be affected by the extended remote working plans.

Today (27 July), the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is set to keep most of its employees at home until at least July 2021. The decision would make Google the first major US corporation to formalise a remote working extension of this scale.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the decision will affect nearly all of Alphabet and Google’s 200,000 full-time and contract employees, and may set the tone for other technology businesses making plans for staff.

In May, Google’s plan was to begin a phased return to offices from 6 July 2020. This target was then pushed back to September, but as the global health crisis has evolved, the company has now reportedly made the decision to keep employees at home for at least another year.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai chose to push back the reopening after debate among executives. It is reported that the decision was partially made to help employees with children who may be facing another school year spent at home.

Another year of remote work?

In March, Google was one of the first major tech businesses to shut its offices in Ireland and introduce a remote working plan to limit the spread of Covid-19. It is possible that other technology companies may follow Google’s example and formalise longer-term remote work plans.

As it stands, Microsoft has said that it is extending its work-from-home policy until at least October, while Amazon has said that corporate employees can work remotely until at least January 2021.

At Facebook, most employees will work remotely until the end of the year, but it is prioritising the return of what it describes as  “critical” employees in content moderation and engineering. In May, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he expects 50pc of the company’s employees to work from home over the next five to 10 years.

Long-term plans

While many companies scramble to put together immediate plans for remote working, others are taking a long-term approach.

Last week, German technology business Siemens announced that it is rolling out a permanent “mobile working” scheme that will continue beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling staff to work remotely for two or three days per week. The plan, which the company has named the ‘New Normal Working Model’, will affect more than 140,000 Siemens employees.

Earlier in July, Fujitsu also announced a permanent remote working plan for 80,000 of its employees, which involves the closure of 50pc of the company’s offices in Japan. As part of Fujitsu’s initiative, the company plans to streamline its use of office space in Japan and halve its current footprint by 2022.

The Japanese company will introduce a hot-desk system where employees are not assigned to a fixed desk. Fujitsu said that its goal is to help employees use their time more flexibly, according to the contents of their work, business roles and lifestyle. The permanent remote working plan also aims to reduce commuting times and expenses for employees.

Twitter has said that employees can continue to work from home permanently, if they wish to do so and they are in a suitable role. At Shopify, most employees will be allowed to work remotely on a permanent basis, with its CEO Tobias Lütke saying that the days of “office centricity” are now over.

Kelly Earley
By Kelly Earley

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic. She joined in June 2019 and covered start-ups, Big Tech and developments in consumer technology.

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