Google is adopting a series of changes to give its employees greater workplace flexibility as the tech giant prepares for an updated, post-pandemic return to normalcy.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai announced that Google will allow employees to work a hybrid workweek, which would allow some workers to spend three days in the office and two days teleworking. Google is also allowing some workers to request a change of office locations altogether.
"Our campuses have been at the heart of our Google community and the majority of our employees still want to be on campus some of the time," Pichai said in a company email. "Yet many of us would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple days [a] week, spending time in another city for part of the year, or even moving there permanently."
In his note to staff, Pichai said that in places where offices have opened to voluntary in-person work, 60% of employees have returned.
He said the changes would allow for 20% of staff to work from home permanently; another 20% of employees would shift to new office locations; and that about 60% will work in the office a few days a week.
Google was one of the first major employers to shut down and send workers home following the coronavirus outbreak. Employees will continue to work remotely through September, as the company slowly reopens, with the option to apply for the permanent hybrid model in June, Pichai said.
The full scope of the hybrid workweek at Google comes down to the nature of an individual's work, Pichai said. Some workers may need to be on-site and in the office more than three days a week.
Google is also offering four weeks per year where employees can work from anywhere they want. This policy aims to give workers more options during vacations and holidays, Pichai said.
The announcement from one of the world's most powerful companies could signal that work-from-home policies are permanent.
A recent study by Microsoft on the impact of forced telework said "flexible work is here to stay." The report, titled "The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?" said employers should accept the idea of hybrid work if they want to keep talented employees.
Microsoft and Facebook signaled that they are embracing the hybrid model, too.
Microsoft said in March its "goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning."
Facebook recently told BBC it thinks remote work is "the future." As of last month, people in eligible roles at the social media company can apply for permanent remote work.