Google delays January 10 return-to-office date

Posted at 12:30 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 14:30:04-05

Google employees will not be required to return to the office come January, the company said this week, citing concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In August, the technology giant announced it would require employees to return to its offices by January 10 at the earliest, subject to local conditions. In other words, that's when the company's voluntary remote work period was slated to end.

"Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions, which vary greatly across our offices," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the time. "To make sure everyone has ample time to plan, you'll have a 30-day heads-up before you're expected back in the office."

But the arrival of the Omicron variant in the U.S. is concerning enough that the tech leader is again extending its work-from-home period.

The company will wait until the new year to determine when it will end its hybrid work phase based on local conditions, which are in flux, a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch Friday.

Employees currently have the option to work from the office if they so choose in most locales, according to the spokesperson. To date, Google has reopened roughly 90% of its U.S. offices.

Small and large companies' return-to-office dates have been a moving target over the course of the pandemic, given the unpredictable course it has taken and the arrival of new, more contagious strains in the U.S.

In the summer and fall, a number of employers that had eyed September return-to-office dates moved them to 2022, at the earliest.

In October, banking company Capital One, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, said it no longer expected workers to return to the office by November 2, an earlier slated target date for bringing back employees to the physical workplace. The bank has not yet set a firm date by which employees must be at their physical desks.

Remote work experts say they expect other companies to follow Google's lead and circle more distant calendar dates for their official transitions to hybrid work models.