CNBC has reported that Google’s employees (Googlers) will not return to offices as planned on January 10. The firm updated its staff in an email on Thursday. Google’s security VP, Chris Rackow, said that the company would now wait until the new year to reassess when it will ask people to start returning to work in the U.S. but, he said, it won’t bring people back until it can offer a “stable, long-term working environment.”
The decision by Google was released following news that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been detected in several countries around the world, including the United States. Medical professionals are still trying to determine how infectious and how deadly the new variant is. Due to a large number of mutations in this variant, it’s not certain how effective existing vaccines are either so it’s probably a good idea on the part of Google to hold off on bringing employees back to work.
Despite delaying the return to work order, Google is encouraging people to come into the office, where conditions allow, so they can reconnect with their colleagues and regain “the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly”. Rather than taking a centralized approach, the firm is also allowing locations to decide their timelines for coming back to work based on the risk level in different localities.
Rackow told employees in the email that 90% of the company’s U.S. offices have been reopened and that in recent weeks, 40% of employees came in. The firm expects things to start getting back to normal over 2022.