Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, making the search-engine giant the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timetable in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: The move will affect nearly all of the roughly 200,000 full-time and contract employees across Google parent Alphabet and is sure to pressure other technology giants that have slated staff to return as soon as January. Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among Google Leads, an internal group of top executives that he chairs, according to a person familiar with the matter. A small number of Google staffers were notified later in the week, people familiar said. Mr. Pichai was swayed in part by sympathy for employees with families to plan for uncertain school years that may involve at-home instruction, depending on geography. It also frees staff to sign full-year leases elsewhere if they choose to move.
“I know it hasn’t been easy,” Mr. Pichai wrote in a note to staff Monday, after The Wall Street Journal reported the impending extension. “I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months.” The new date plants Google firmly in the cautious camp of companies debating the efficacy and wisdom of remote work as coronavirus cases surge and employers try to balance workers’ safety with efforts to reopen the economy. Some multinational firms are eager to bring employees back and return to normalcy. The extended timeline applies to company employees in most of its major offices, including the headquarters of Mountain View, Calif., and other offices in the U.S., U.K., India, Brazil and elsewhere. Until now, Google had told its employees to expect a return to the office beginning in January.