Google will allow the majority of its staffers to work from home until September 2021, and the search giant will experiment with a hybrid model that combines office-based and remote working after that.
This approach will involve at least three days spent at the office, with employees able to choose to work from home for the other two. In a company memo, CEO Sundar Pichai said Google wanted to test its hypothesis that "a flexible work model will lead to greater productivity, collaboration and well-being."
Google started asking employees to work from home in March, abandoning the plush perks they otherwise would get on site in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. As the pandemic shows no sign of abating, particularity in the US, Google has repeatedly pushed back its deadline to fully reopen offices: from 1 June, to January of next year, and now to September.
And while Google isn't the sole company to scale back in-person working, it's somewhat of an aberration as many tech businesses look to use the pandemic as an opportunity to cut back on expensive office space.
In May, Jack Dorsey said all Square and Twitter staffers will be able to permanently work remotely. In July, Fujitsu announced plans to close half of its Japanese office space by the end of 2022, affecting 80,000 employees. Dell expects at least 60 per cent of its 165,000-strong workforce to work remotely – at least partially – after the end of the pandemic.
Wider still, an October survey of 1,000 UK company directors show at least 74 per cent have made preparations for increased working from home.
This trend is being driven by workers themselves. McKinsey research published in June showed four in five people preferred working from home, with 41 per cent saying they were more productive.
In the US, being unchained from the office can have other benefits, allowing tech workers to relocate from expensive urban areas like San Francisco and New York in favour of cheaper locales.
The price of renting and the cost of living in Houston are 50 and 33 per cent cheaper respectively than in San Francisco, though both HPE and Oracle said these were not factors in their recent decision to relocate HQs.
If you're prepared to sacrifice the trappings of office life, with its free cafeterias and nap pods, you can quite easily reduce your cost of living, proving once again there's no such thing as a free meal. ®