The coronavirus isn’t going anywhere.
That appears to be the thinking of Google, as CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Monday morning that many of them would be working from home until July 2021 at the earliest. That’s right, the Big Data company thinks we’re all in this for the long haul — at least in the U.S., anyway.
So reports the Wall Street Journal, which quotes Pichai as framing the announcement as a way to grant his employees a modicum of certainty in otherwise uncertain times.
“I know it hasn’t been easy,” the Journal reports him as writing to Google employees on Monday. “I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months.”
This new timeline for returning to in-office work — Google had previously said its employees would work from home until the end of 2020 — suggests the company doesn’t have confidence in its ability to create a safe working environment mid-pandemic.
The new work-from-home policy reportedly applies to the majority of Google’s 200,000 employees (including contractors) and is not limited to those based in the U.S. It also ups the pressure for other tech giants, such as Facebook and Apple, to follow suit.
In a May livestream, Mark Zuckerberg announced that some of Facebook’s employees would be able to request to work from home permanently (and receive a corresponding pay cut to “adjust salary to your location”). However, Google’s announcement is significantly more broad in that it applies to almost all of its workers.
Apple, reports Bloomberg, told employees last month that it does “not anticipate a full return before the end of the year” for workers based in the U.S. Twitter already said screw it, and told many of its employees they could work remotely forever. Slack made a similar announcement in June.
In other words, the tech industry is settling into work-from-home life for the long term.