Google announced that it is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened in an attempt to fight the spreading Delta variant.
This decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited. “This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote. He disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. This requirement will be first imposed at Google's Mountain View, California Headquarters and other U.S. offices before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates. The vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulators of each location and exceptions will be made for medical and other protected reasons.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead," Pichai explained.
Google's decision to extend its remote-work follows a similar move by Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too. The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work as a result of the spread of Covid.
Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and several other tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home. This marks the third time that Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices. Google's vaccine requirement could also embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks of the Delta variant and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.