Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Google instructs staff to work from home until the end of the year amid Covid-19

The tech giant offers staff an extra day's company holiday to address burn-out

Google and Facebook have told most employees to keep working from home for the rest of 2020 as part of a response by the tech giants to the deadly coronavirus pandemic. AFP
Google and Facebook have told most employees to keep working from home for the rest of 2020 as part of a response by the tech giants to the deadly coronavirus pandemic. AFP

The majority of Google employees will continue to work from home until the end of the year and the company has told staff to take a day off on May 22 to cope with burnout.

The company will gradually re-open its offices as early as June with staffing capacity of 10 to 15 per cent at any one time for safety reasons, Sundar Pichai, Alphabet's chief executive, said in an internal memo, which was confirmed to The National by a Google spokesperson. Guidance for employees will vary by location and the company will continue to operate in line with directions from health authorities.

"Assuming local guidance allows, we will begin reopening more offices globally as early as June, but most Google employees will likely work from home until the end of this year," the spokesperson said. "Our return to the office will be slow, deliberate, and incremental. The safety and wellbeing of Googlers and the community remains our priority."

The first returning employees will be those whose jobs require them to be in the office. For others, there will be instances where they will be able to come into the office during this time, according to the company.

The update comes after Google initially said it will keep its staff working from home until June 1, but it has now extended its policy. Social media giant Facebook also said on Friday it will allow employees who can work remotely to do so until the end of 2020, according to Reuters.

Companies are outlining their work policies as the spread of the coronavirus forced many countries to adopt movement restrictions and changed the way businesses operate. Working from home has become a new normal for many businesses around the world.

Globally, there are 3.93 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and the death toll stands at 274,917 as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the spread of the virus. About 1.3 million people have recovered so far.

Google has also asked its employees to take a day off on May 22 to help them prevent burnout. In locations where May 22 is not a working day, the date for the day off will be adjusted, according to the company.

In April, the Dubai Future Foundation predicted that remote working will be “the new norm” in the UAE in the long term and that company policies will adapt to reflect the change.

Prior to Covid-19, the UAE had one of the lowest remote work participation rates in the world. Only 10 per cent of workers in the country reported working from home one to two days per week, compared with a global average of 62 per cent, according to a 2019 survey by International Workplace Group.

Updated: May 9, 2020 04:42 PM

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