Back to work plans? Google reverses course and other updates re: returning to the office

As the economy continues to slowly reopen, companies continue to adjust their return-to-work plans with hopes to return back to pre-pandemic normalcy. Here are some recent updates from local companies that will affect a large portion of the region’s workforce.

Last week Google walked back earlier plans that required employees live within commuting distance of offices, now saying it anticipates 20 percent of employees will work from home permanently after the company officially returns to the office later this fall.  CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in a letter it expects 20 percent will eventually be back in office full time, and approximately 60 percent of its workers will be in the office “a few days a week,” as the company develops more remote roles and even all-remote sub teams. Employees can apply to be fully remote, or move to other offices, but those who do may see their compensation cut, officials said. Altogether, about 60% of employees are expected to come into the office “a few days a week” said CEO Sundar Pichai. More information is expected by the middle of June. 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced last week that employees will be returning to the San Francisco office later this month on May 17. However, employees still have the option to work from home through the end of 2021 if they so choose.

Headquartered in San Jose, Adobe plans to balance the benefits of flexible, virtual work arrangements for employees with the need for teams to gather – sometimes in person – to perform at their best. The company predicts a “hybrid” workplace model in the future and will have a “flexible, digital-first mindset”.

Intuit Inc., maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks, is beginning to reopen some of its offices this month, allowing employees to come into the office on a voluntary basis. The company will be implementing a hybrid work model that requires employees to work on-site two to three days a week, limiting the number of people allowed in to 40% of each office’s capacity. The company doesn’t plan to require anyone to be in the office until August at the earliest.

Instacart is the latest Bay Area company to embrace remote work with its recent announcement to allow more than 70% of full-time employees to work remotely on an ongoing basis post-pandemic.

VMware will be offering employees the choice to permanently work from home as part of the company’s digital-first approach. Under the program, employees are allowed to work “from any location that accelerates their productivity and advances personal and professional goals during and after the pandemic.” Office workspaces will be redesigned with “reservable, unassigned seating” for employees who will be taking a hybrid approach.

Among the many decisions companies must make as they move out of pandemic lockdowns and into the future of post-pandemic workplaces, a recent debate is arising on whether Bay Area employers can and most importantly, should mandate their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Google, Facebook and Uber are encouraging but not requiring employees to get vaccinated. Cisco isn’t mandating vaccinations but in a presentation for suppliers posted on the firm’s website, it said employees who must be in Bay Area offices now and as it ramps up to higher occupancy will have to be tested for coronavirus weekly. Salesforce outlined a three-stage process, allowing unvaccinated workers to start coming back to offices in the second stage.

We will update this story as new return to work plans emerge.