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Google Will Not Mandate Office Return On January 10

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Google is once again delaying its mandatory office return policy for workers. The company will no longer require employees to head back to offices come January 10th, as it previously indicated. So Googlers can continue to work from home beyond that.

According to a CNBC report, which cites an email to full-time employees from Google security VP Chris Rackow, the company will wait until the new year to decide on the new return date. It will not mandate in-office work in the US until the conditions across the country allow for a safe and stable “long-term working environment.”

However, Rackow reiterated Google’s previous statement that it will let regional offices decide when to resume in-office work depending on the local conditions. The company will also notify employees at least 30 days in advance before they have to return to the office. It will be a hybrid work model though, meaning employees will be able to work from home as well as offices alternatively. Almost 20 percent of Googlers will likely continue to work from home though, depending on various factors, including health complications.

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Meanwhile, in the areas where conditions permit, Google is encouraging capable employees to come to the office voluntarily. The company has reportedly opened 90 percent of its offices in the US in recent weeks. Nearly 40 percent of its workforce in the country came in, the report claims. Around 5,000 employees are reportedly coming to the offices each day in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) as well.

Google has over 150,000 full-time employees globally. The company also employs almost as many temporary and contract workers. It has reportedly received over 10,000 relocation requests amid this global health crisis. 85 percent of those requests have been approved.

Omicron COVID-19 variant has forced Google to delay office return

Google originally planned to resume work in offices in September this year. But the outbreak of the Delta variant of the Coronavirus forced it to postpone those plans to October. The company later extended the voluntary return policy to January next year. Now, when things were starting to look bright again, the latest Omicron COVID-19 variant has indefinitely shut those plans too.

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While Rackow’s email reportedly didn’t mention the new Omicron variant, it certainly prompted Google to delay office returns indefinitely. This variant is said to have more mutations (around 50) than other variants and is resistant to vaccines as well.

According to a Business Insider report, Google’s president for the EMEA region, Matt Brittin has told employees in the region that this delay is due to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant and the travel restrictions that have “triggered global uncertainty”. It could take “several weeks” to fully assess the impact of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus, Brittin suggested.

“While we wait to learn more over the coming weeks, we ask you to re-consider any in-person gatherings and try to move to virtual meetings and events wherever possible,” he said in an email to employees.

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Reports suggest Google’s mandatory vaccine policy has received some opposition from its employees. So this could have had a say in the company’s decision to delay office returns indefinitely as well. Either way, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to let the world return to normalcy anytime soon