Google Employees Told to Come Back to Offices, Vaccinated Don’t Need to Wear Masks

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Google is asking employees in the United States, Asia-Pacific, and the UK to return back to offices for three days per week beginning April 4, marking the end of the company’s full-time remote working option instituted during the pandemic and a transition toward hybrid work.

“Google’s approach to the hybrid work week was inspired by Googler feedback and is designed to maximize flexibility for Googlers while still facilitating the innovation, collaboration and camaraderie of our in-office experiences,” Google told The Epoch Times by email.

“Most employees will spend approximately three days in the office and two days working where they choose. Since in-office time will be focused on collaboration, Google’s product areas and functions have determined which days their teams will come together in the office.”

The Bay Area is one of the U.S. locations where Google will adopt the hybrid model that combines office and remote work. The tech giant currently employs around 45,000 in the region.

Google has asked employees to use this month and adjust to the updated work policy. Workers will have access to 15-minute counseling sessions to help them return back to the office.

Employees coming to offices must be fully vaccinated or should present an exemption approval. In the Bay Area, fully vaccinated employees need not wear masks, unlike unvaccinated individuals, who would also be required to test regularly. Those who are not vaccinated and do not have an exemption will be given a chance to apply for permanent remote work.

“We understand that some employees cannot be vaccinated due to medical or other protected reasons, and have a process in place for approved accommodations to support them,” said the company.

Employees who might not want to return to offices by April 4 can also request for extending the remote work option. Roughly 14,000 of the company’s 156,500 full-time employees worldwide have either shifted to remote work or moved to a new location. Google has approved 85 percent of such requests since June, the company claims.

Perks like massages, transit, and free meals have largely been restored in some offices, with business visitors and meetings now allowed. But employees cannot bring their families with them for a visit.

“Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we’re pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues,” Google told employees in an email last month.

Many other companies are also requiring workers to return back to offices. However, most employees working from homes want to continue with the remote working option, according to a report by Pew Research published on Feb. 16.

Among those who have a workplace outside their home, 61 percent said they chose to do remote work, a big change from earlier in the pandemic when only 36 percent said they were working from home as a personal choice.

Naveen Athrappully

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Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.



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