- Google employees will return to the company's physical offices September 2021, a Google spokesperson confirmed to HR Dive.
- CEO Sundar Pichai made the announcement in an internal email, The New York Times reported. Pichai said Google will pilot a "hybrid" scheduling model, under which certain employees would work in the company's offices for at least three days per week and at home or elsewhere for the rest of the week, according to the Times.
- "No company at our scale has ever created a fully hybrid work force model — though a few are starting to test it — so it will be interesting to try," Pichai wrote, according to the Times. The Google spokesperson confirmed the details included in the outlet's report but declined to provide a copy of Pichai's email to HR Dive.
Google's announcement may serve as an important moment in the broader HR industry conversation around remote work. Companies including Indeed and Twitter have announced that remote work will be baked into their reopening plans moving forward, while executives surveyed by firms such as Gartner have indicated an openness to flexible work arrangements even after the pandemic subsides.
Google became one of the first large employers to enter remote work status during the initial months of the pandemic as it asked employees on several continents to work from home in March. In August, Pichai said the company's voluntary telework policy would be extended to July 2021.
One interesting aspect of Google's latest announcement, however, actually does not appear to have been included in Pichai's internal letter. According to a CNBC report, a company FAQ document for employees indicated that employees would be expected to live "in commuting distance" of their assigned offices.
That relates to a broader conversation employers may be having regarding the movement of employees who went remote during the pandemic. Specifically, employers may be rethinking pay for employees who decide to move. While not all employers who previously spoke to HR Dive indicated that they would adjust pay for remote workers moving forward, sources indicated that employers may need to consider additional compliance obligations when addressing such situations regardless of pay policies.
Google likely will not be alone in its decision to experiment with so-called hybrid work models in the future. Earlier this year, a survey of U.S. companies by Mercer showed that 83% of respondents were considering flexible work at a greater scale than they had prior to the pandemic. And 73% of respondents said they planned to make changes in order to support a hybrid work model of both in-office and remote work.