Google is reopening some of its US offices with employees returning to the office on a voluntary basis from April.
The return to office has been brought forward from the previously set deadline of September 1, and staff will start returning to their workplaces in a “limited” capacity from April.
From September 1, employees are expected to report to work in-person for at least three days a week, CEO Sundar Pichai had said. If employees want to work remotely for more than 14 additional days annually after September 1, they will need to submit a formal application for it.
Last December, Google announced that staff are expected to “live within a commuting distance” of their assigned offices, and the company could ask employees to report to their workplaces at any point in time.
The company’s new head of people operations Fiona Cicconi has advised employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but said getting the jab is not mandatory.
New flexible layouts for the office, including “collaboration” spaces that can accommodate up to a dozen people, outdoor spaces for larger team gatherings and reservable desks for individuals, are a reflection of the company’s philosophy that employees work best in an in-person setting which emphasises teamwork “anchored by shared projects”.
Other changes to Google’s workplace include the creation of in-office presentation booths “designed to send professional-quality broadcasts to large, distributed audiences”, Sundar has said, adding that “in-office collaboration will be just as important to Google’s future as it’s been to our past”, reported CNBC.