Google workers in U.S. won’t return to office as expected on Jan. 10

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O keynote session at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on May 7, 2019.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Google will not be returning to offices as expected on Jan. 10 after all, according to a companywide email sent Thursday that CNBC has seen.

The company’s security VP, Chris Rackow, stated in the email to employees that it will wait until the new year to assess when U.S. offices can safely return to its “stable, long-term working environment.” None of the U.S. locations will adopt the hybrid working mandate on Jan. 10th as planned, his email states.

The new guidance 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 against the company’s vaccine mandate.

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 and evade protection from vaccines to some degree.

Rackow’s email went on to say it will let specific locations make their timelines for returning their respective local workforces. Google’s “Local Incident Response Teams” will also help determine each office’s “risk level,” Rackow’s note stated.

Rackow said that while employees will no longer be required to return to office on 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.” Since the company knows it will ben an adjustment to weekly routines, it will give all full-time employees who need it a 30-day period to transition, the note said. 

“We will be re-learning our working rhythms together in 2022, which brings new opportunities and new challenges as we experiment with more flexible ways of working,” he stated.

He went on to say that the company has so far opened 90% of its U.S. offices and, in recent weeks, nearly 40% of U.S. Googlers came in.

While Rackow’s email doesn’t mention the latest Covid-19 variant, Google reportedly told its Europe, the Middle East, and Africa employees that it would postpone its return-to-office plan for those locations as the new COVID-19 variant and travel restrictions continue to create uncertainty.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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