The majority of employees at Google and Facebook will work remotely for the rest of the year, with the world’s two biggest tech companies outlining how they will gradually reopen their offices.
Nearly all team members at the two tech titans are currently working from home (WFH).
At Facebook, more than 95 per cent of full-time employees are currently working from home, while at Google less than 5 per cent of its global workforce are in offices.
This setup is now likely to continue until at least 2021, with both firms revealing they will slowly reopen physical offices but only for a small number of team members.
Alphabet and Google boss Sundar Pichai sent a memo to employees late last week announcing offices would be reopened as part of a phased approach next month, but with only 10-15 per cent of staff allowed in any one location.
This will “allow for the right precautions, with more able to come in periodically (as we can rotate)”, Pichai said.
“We’re starting to really get the hang of these virtual meetings, though I do miss the experience of having so many of us in the same place,” Pichai said.
“It may be a while before that’s possible. Our ramp back to the office will be slow, deliberate and incremental.”
The first allowed to return to Google offices around the world will be those who cannot properly work from home, such as employees who need to use special equipment.
All other employees will be able to work remotely “potentially through the end of the year, although there will be moments or occasions where you are able to come into the office”.
“If this sounds complex, that’s because it is,” Pichai said.
“We are a global company, with a range of products and teams, and this is a global crisis, manifesting in different ways in regions and countries.”
Facebook is also planning to open some of its offices from July, but all of its global workforce will have the option to work from home for the rest of the year.
“Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last month.
“I hope this helps contain the spread of COVID-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.”
For those who will be returning to Facebook offices, safety will be the “number one priority”, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said in an earnings call last week.
Facebook has also made the decision to cancel all events with more than 50 attendees until at least July 2021.
“We know that most people can’t work from home as easily as many of our employees can,” Zuckerberg said.
“We also know that when society does eventually start reopening, it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely and that we minimise the possibility of future outbreaks.”
Other global tech giants have also extended their remote working policies in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon and Microsoft employees will be working from home until at least October, while Slack’s policy is in place until at least September.
In the memo to employees, Pichai also announced a global day off for Google team members at the end of May to help prevent burnout.
“I know many of us have been running hard non-stop for weeks now and may be experiencing some burnout,” he said.
“So, I…announce an official day off on May 22. Take the time to do whatever you need to do to prioritise your wellbeing.”