Google said some of its U.S. employees could return to offices voluntarily as soon as next month.
The company told workers Wednesday that offices would reopen in a limited capacity based on specific criteria, including increases in COVID-19 vaccine availability and downward coronavirus trends.
“Because the situation remains dynamic, we continue taking a phased and deliberate approach to safely bringing more people back to the office where we can,” Google said in an statement USA TODAY.
The company didn’t specify how many employees would be allowed in its offices. All Google employees aren’t required to return to the office until at least September.
Google’s announcement comes as major tech companies, among the first to shut down as the pandemic surged, have recently announced plans to let employees return to their offices in reduced capacities. Microsoft allowed employees back at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters this week. Uber also reportedly allowed workers back to its San Francisco Bay Area offices this week with up to 20% capacity.
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Facebook said it plans to reopen its offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, including its Silicon Valley headquarters, at 10% capacity in May. And Amazon is expecting some of its employees to come back to its offices as early as this summer.
“Our plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline,” Amazon told its workers Tuesday. “We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.”
Previously, Facebook said that some of its nearly 45,000 employees could work from home permanently, joining the likes of tech companies, including Twitter and Square. As a result of companies adapting a remote or hybrid working structure, many tech workers moved from major tech hubs, including San Francisco and New York, to smaller locales such as Sacramento, California, and Richmond, Virginia, according to LinkedIn data.
Last year, Google said it would keep employees working remotely through July 2021 as a contingency plan to accommodate employees with families.