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Google U-turns and embraces the hybrid future of work

The future of work is hybrid and flexible.

Allie Nawrat

Google hybrid
Credit: Richard Lawrence via Twenty20.

Google has turned its future of work policy on its head. Unleash Your Work

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai has U-turned and laid out the company’s plans for hybrid, flexible working in a blog post.
  • Not only will Googlers be able to work together in the office or another remote office location, but they will also have the opportunity to continue to work from home.
  • Google will also allow its employees to apply to work remotely full-time or move to new locations — but this could come with a pay cut.

Google employees have been working from home since March last year. But now, like other employers, Google, and its parent company Alphabet, are figuring out what the future of work looks like.

In April, Google announced it was re-opening some of its offices so that staff could return to office-based working if they so wish. This re-opening was also tentative in order to be in line with the changing COVID-19 situation across the world.

At the same time, as reported by CNBC, Google made clear that, in the post-pandemic world, remote working would be the exception to the rule.

Once the offices re-opened to all – which the company hoped would be in September 2021 – workers would have to formally apply to work from home if they wanted to do so for more than 14 days a year. Longer term remote working would only be allowed in incredibly exceptional circumstances, according to Google.

However, the company has now U-turned on its anti-remote working policy, bringing it more in line with its tech giant competitors.

In a blog post published in early May, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted that nearly 60% of Google employees — which are known as Googlers – have chosen to come back to the office at least some of the time.

In the same post, Pichai laid out what Google’s plan for the future of work was. Spoiler alert – it is going to be hybrid.

Google is envisioning a future where 60% of Googlers will work together in the office a few days a week, while 20% work in new remote office locations and 20% are work from home.  

However, Google is also offering its employees the chance to apply to work completely remotely or to move to another office anywhere in the world. Decisions will be determined based on the demands of the role, as well as the goals of the team and of the wider business.

Importantly, Google noted that decisions about remote working and relocation could lead to employee’s compensation being adjusted accordingly. This is in line with announcements made by Twitter and Facebook that employees who move out of the expensive San Francisco Bay Area may face a pay cut.

Google’s interest in hybrid and flexible working doesn’t stop at whether employees choose to return to the office. The company is moving to introduce further flexibility into the lives of its staff through initiatives like work-from-anywhere weeks and reset days.

Google has not chosen a specific time date for implementing this plan. Pichai explained: “All of these efforts will help us work with greater flexibility and choice once we’re able to return to our offices globally.”

Pinchai concluded: “The future of work is flexibility. The changes above are a starting point to help us do our very best work and have fun doing it.”

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