Google has decided to drop certain Covid-related requirements for employees, and is restoring the perks it offers to its headquarters while it gets ready to send employees back to work.
Google Real Estate and Workplace Services Vice President David Radcliffe wrote an email to San Francisco Bay Area employees this week, explaining the fact that Google is easing some of the rules related to vaccinations as well as tests, social distancing and masks. In addition, a Google spokesperson informed CNBC it is the case that Google had changed its mind and will no longer make vaccinations a requirement of work to U.S. workers, but did not provide further specifics.
The note also stated that amenities like massages, and accessibility to spaces for informal gatherings within the workplace will return. It has been the case in past times that Google was able to draw talent by offering enjoyable office amenities, but the majority of them were removed in the aftermath of the epidemic.
The changes come in the midst of Google’s plans for a requirement that employees be physically present at least three times a week in order to have an “hybrid” work model. Other Bay Area tech companies are offering remote working options. Google was forced to postpone its return to its offices multiple times due to numerous Covid-19 variants of surges, and another one could alter the latest plans again.
It’s been nearly more than two years ago that Google along with other technology companies began sending the staff home in the early days of the epidemic. Since since then, the market for labor has become more competitive as employees complain about not receiving the perks and some have expressed their desire to work at home.
Vaccines, testing requirements relaxed
Radcliffe’s note states Bay Area offices are lifting the testing requirement which was in place in January that even applied to vaccination-free employees.
Additionally, Google is dropping its social distancing requirements and masks for employees who have been vaccinated across the country, pointing out that the cities that are still wearing masks are expected to eliminate them shortly.
Google has also reversed its position on the need to require vaccinations for employment to U.S. employees, according to Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson. The company announced in November that CNBC said that Google informed employees that they had to adhere to the vaccine guidelines or be facing losing their pay and ultimately losing their jobs.
Erickson said to CNBC the company has dropped the requirement to be employed in the month that passed after it removed from the January. 18 deadline that it established for employees to receive vaccinations or gain exemption approval. She refused to give further information about the policy or the reasoning behind the change, but did note that employees still needed to be vaccinated, or have an exemption to be allowed to enter the office.
“We’re continuing to implement our vaccination policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or approved accommodations for any individuals accessing our sites, because it’s one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running,” Erickson said.
The employees who are not vaccinated but are permitted to work in offices will require additional procedures that include testing and wearing a face mask in the note from Radcliffe.
“Preparing for hybrids” and returning to headquarters
Radcliffe also stated that the company will be reopening services like fitness centers that do not require appointments and massages; replacing the full shuttle service; adding places to eat lunch and breakfast; and also opening “all informal spaces” such as game rooms, lounges music rooms, massage chairs.
“We’re at the beginning of a journey, so the office experience will feel pretty similar to what it was like pre-Covid,” Radcliffe declared. “We’re designing and piloting options to support new ways of working together and we’ll gather insights, data and feedback to help us learn as we go.”
Radcliffe said that in-person business gatherings and other events are “ramping back up.”
“We’re giving employees who welcome the chance to come into the office the option to do that wherever we safely can, while allowing those who aren’t ready to keep working from home,” Erickson said to CNBC. “Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we’re pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues.”
In the San Francisco Bay Area has the most Google offices, and there are many buildings scattered across the cities within this region. One of them is the Mountain View headquarters. Radcliffe reported that 30 percent of Google employees working in the region were in the office during the last week, however the return is still uninvolved.
The company hasn’t set a date for the return that is required as of the time it delayed it’s Jan. 10 date in the midst of the omicron spike. However, under the heading “What Happens Next?” Radcliffe states that the company is in the process of preparing to start its 30-day transition to the hybrid week in the event that conditions improve. His team has been making plans for “celebrations” to welcome back employees.