Google workers return to offices by April 4: Employees shift to hybrid model with three days on site


Google staff were told on Wednesday that they need to return to the office from April 4, with the Silicon Valley company adopting a hybrid model with three days in the office and two days working from wherever they chose.

John Casey, vice president of global benefits at Google, wrote to employees outlining the plan in an email obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

‘Our hybrid model balances the best of being together in person and being anywhere – where teams can intentionally come together to collaborate and connect in the office, and spend the other days working from wherever best suits their needs,’ Casey wrote.

The move is just the latest twist in the saga of returning to the office – and comes after Google in the fall announced staff could apply to work remotely, and take a pay cut as a result of moving away from the costly coastal cities.

It was unclear whether those agreed deals would remain in place, or whether those workers would also be called back to work.

Google is yet to respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

Google's global headquarters are pictured in Mountain View, California. From April 4, workers must return to their desks three days a week

Google’s global headquarters are pictured in Mountain View, California. From April 4, workers must return to their desks three days a week

John Casey, vice president of global benefits at Google, announced the move in an email to staff sent on Wednesday

John Casey, vice president of global benefits at Google, announced the move in an email to staff sent on Wednesday

COVID cases are significantly down nationwide, with a 53 percent drop in cases in the last two weeks in California, and a 55 percent fall in New York

COVID cases are significantly down nationwide, with a 53 percent drop in cases in the last two weeks in California, and a 55 percent fall in New York

The move came the day after Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address, urged Americans to return to their offices.

‘It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,’ he said, noting the nationwide decrease in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations.

‘People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.

‘We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.

‘Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our kids need to be in school.

‘And with 75 percent of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77 percent, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely.’

The CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, last weekend in an interview with The Wall Street Journal said he foresaw his staff returning part-time to the office.

‘We do think it’s important to get people in a few days a week, but we are embracing all options,’ he said.

‘I think we can be more purposeful about the time they’re in, making sure group meetings or collaboration, creative collaborative brainstorming or community building, happens then.’

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said last week that he expected a hybrid model of returning to the office, with some days a week worked from home, and others in the office

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said last week that he expected a hybrid model of returning to the office, with some days a week worked from home, and others in the office

Google was originally planning on asking staff to return to the office in January 2021.

A survey conducted by the company in March 2021 had shown a drop in well-being among its workers, prompting Google to announce a series of benefits including a $500 cash bonus.

In the summer of 2021, Google then announced – along with other tech firms like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter – that people could apply to work from home permanently, but would take a pay cut if they moved to an area where living costs were deemed lower.

‘Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from,’ a Google spokesperson told Reuters in August, adding that pay will differ from city to city and state to state.

Screenshots of Google’s internal salary calculator seen by Reuters show that an employee living in Stamford, Connecticut – an hour from New York City by train – would be paid 15 percent less if she or he worked from home, while a colleague from the same office living in New York City would see no cut from working from home.

Screenshots showed 5 percent and 10 percent differences in the Seattle, Boston and San Francisco areas.

Google's offices in Manhattan are pictured. If staff chose to relocate to a cheaper part of the U.S., their New York salaries would be cut

Google’s offices in Manhattan are pictured. If staff chose to relocate to a cheaper part of the U.S., their New York salaries would be cut

Interviews with Google employees indicate pay cuts as high as 25 percent for remote work if they left San Francisco for an almost as expensive area of the state such as Lake Tahoe.

One woman told Wired that she was told moving to North Carolina would see her forced to take a 25 percent pay cut.

Twitter, which in October 2020 announced their staff could work from home permanently, has had staff returning gradually, if they wished.

Facebook, American Express and Wells Fargo are among companies that are planning broader office reopenings this month.

American Express told workers that they would be encouraged to return to the New York office starting March 1, followed by a broader return on March 15.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, is beginning its own return to the office on March 28.

Microsoft has told employees that they needed from February 28 to begin discussions with their managers about their return to the office, and gave them a 30-day timeline to agree an arrangement. Most would be able to work from home up to half the time, Microsoft said.

Ford Motor said in April that it would adopt a hybrid work program, where many employees can be partly in-person and partly remote.

This week, The Wall Street Journal’s parent company announced a flexible approach, and The Washington Post said this month that staff would be required to come back in March.

The New York Times on Thursday announced a gradual return to office plan, in which employees are encouraged to return to the office occasionally starting April 4 and expected to adopt a combination of in-person and remote work starting June 6.

Banks were among the quickest to bring staff back after the Omicron surge had peaked.

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase called employees back on February 1, and Citigroup said this week that its vaccinated U.S. employees should return to the office at least two days per week starting March 21, if they haven’t yet gone back.

BNY Mellon broke from its Wall Street peers in introducing a more flexible work arrangement.

Chevron, which had delayed its return to the office in January, required Houston workers to return on February 14.

The mayor of New York, Eric Adams, has been urging companies to bring their staff back to restore some of the vibrancy of the city.

Office occupancy was at an average of 31 percent of pre-COVID levels across 10 major cities last month – up from 23 percent in early January and down from a pandemic peak of 40 percent in the first week of December, according to the security firm Kastle Systems.

A report last month from the Partnership for New York City found that the majority of employers surveyed expected daily attendance in their offices to exceed 50 percent on an average weekday by late March.

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