Google has announced that it will not be requiring its employees to return to offices on Jan. 10 as expected after all, according to an email sent to employees Thursday and reported by CNBC.
The new information comes after several previous delays and as most of the company’s employees were expected to return to physical offices three days a week. It also comes as a small but growing portion of the company’s employees fight the company’s vaccine mandate.
In the email to full-time employees, the company’s Security VP, Chris Rackow shared that it will wait until the new year to assess when U.S. offices can safely return to a ‘stable, long-term working environment.’ The email also said that none of the U.S. locations will adopt the hybrid working mandate on January 10 as planned.
Rackow’s email mentions that Google will allow specific locations to decide their timelines for returning their respective local workforces to the office and Google’s ‘Local Incident Response Teams’ will also help determine each office’s risk level.
Rackow also said that while employees will no longer be required to return January 10, the company still encourages employees to continue coming in “where conditions allow, to reconnect with colleagues in person and start regaining the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly.” The company will give all full-time employees who need it a 30-day period to transition to the hybrid schedule, the note said.
Health officials in the U.S. and around the world say they are concerned that the new COVID-19 variant omicron, which has some 50 mutations, could prove more transmissible than previous strains and evade vaccines’ protection to some degree.
While Rackow’s email doesn’t mention the latest Covid variant, Google reportedly told its employees in Europe, the Middle East and Africa that it would postpone its return-to-office plan for those locations as the new variant and travel restrictions continue to create uncertainty.
As reported by CNBC, a company spokesperson said that Google previously listed January 10 as the earliest date for a possible return and reiterated that it has safely opened more than 90% of its U.S. offices.