While vaccinations continue to ramp up, so does the new Delta variant of COVID-19. Amid a steady return to the office for many employees, Google CEO Sunday Pichai has released an open letter to employees regarding its new policy and vaccinations.
Pichai outlined the new company policy requiring that all employees returning to the office be fully vaccinated. He says that this new requirement “will vary according to local conditions and regulations, and will not apply until vaccines are widely available in your area.” The policy will not go into effect immediately but will roll out “in the coming weeks” to employees in the U.S. and eventually to offices in other countries.
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Additionally, Google is extending its voluntary work-from-home option for employees until October 18. Employees were sent home in March of 2020 amid the onset of the pandemic, and at one point, it seemed Google would eventually adopt a flexible work model by September of this year. However, the ongoing pandemic may have stifled those plans.
Pichai says that while it’s exciting to see employees returning to campus, “we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office.” The variant appears to be much more transmittable than previous versions and has started to cause a rise in cases in many regions.
Google will continue to monitor the situation and will give employees a 30-day notice of updates to its “full return to office plans” should they change. More details also will be provided to employees with special conditions and who are unable to receive the vaccination.
The company has reportedly managed to save as much as $1 billion in a year due to employees leaving the office. However, in Tuesday’s Q2 earnings call, Google says it expected headcounts to rise in the second half of the year as employees returned to work.
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