Alphabet's Google will allow its employees to work from home until September next year, extending the return to the office by a few months, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The company was also testing the idea of a "flexible workweek" once it is safe to return to the office, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told the company's staff in an email on Sunday, according to the report.
As part of the plan, Google's employees would be expected to work at least three days a week in the office while working from home the other days, the newspaper report said.
"We are testing a hypothesis that a flexible work model will lead to greater productivity, collaboration, and well-being," Pichai wrote in the email.
Google was one of the first companies to ask its employees to work from home due to the pandemic. It has previously delayed the timing by when the employees should return to the office from January next year to July.
One thing not mentioned in Mr. Pichai’s email is whether the company will require employees to take the coronavirus vaccine before returning to the office. Google has said it recommends that employees obtain the vaccine when their health care provider or local public health authority has told them it’s available to them, said Gina Scigliano, a Google spokeswoman. Google has said it is looking for opportunities in mid-to-late 2021 to help make Covid-19 vaccines available to its workers, but only after high-risk and high-priority people globally have received the vaccines.
In March, Google was one of the first companies to tell employees to start working from home before other corporations had a grasp on the risks of working together in enclosed offices. It has repeatedly delayed the timing on when it expects employees to return to the office from January 2021 to July and now, September.
As part of its more flexible workplaces, Google said it planned to put in place new office designs in areas with lower coronavirus risk. It plans to offer options to employees like booking collaboration places for up to a dozen people and securing outdoor spaces for larger gatherings. For employees in need of a quiet space outside the home, Google will offer reservable desks at its offices.
Google also said it planned to keep developing new ways to help employees bridge the gap between the experience of working at the office and working from home, especially for employees who may not live in places well suited for remote work. The company said it was creating in-office presentation booths for sending professional-quality broadcasts to groups online.