The tech industry’s two biggest internet companies have told employees to settle into home-office routines through the end of the year amid the COVID-19 crisis. Both Google and Facebook this week said they will let most employees work from home through the end of 2020, while they also set timelines for gradually reopening corporate offices.
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Google will begin a phased reopening of offices in June, but with just 10%-15% of staffers allowed to be in any one location at the outset, Alphabet and Google chief Sundar Pichai wrote in a May 8 memo, as first reported by CNBC. Most employees will be required to stay home, potentially through the end of 2020, he said, “though there will be moments or occasions where you are able to come into the office.”
In addition, Google set Friday, May 22, as an official day off for employees to decompress, with Pichai expressing concerns over burnout. “Take the time to do whatever you need to do to prioritize your well-being,” the CEO wrote in the memo.
That came after Facebook on Thursday said it plans to start opening most of its offices on July 6 (the Monday after the July 4 holiday weekend in the U.S.) while also saying employees who can work remotely will have that option through the end of the year. Previously, it had told employees to expect to WFH at least through the end of May.
“Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post last month. “I hope this helps contain the spread of COVID-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.”
At Facebook, more than 95% of full-time employees are working from home, CFO Dave Wehner said on the company’s Q1 earnings call last week. He added that safety is “the No. 1 priority for those essential workers who need to come into our data centers and other facilities.”
Facebook ended the first quarter with more than 48,000 full-time workers, after 3,300 net new hires in the period (primarily in technical functions). Zuckerberg reiterated on the call that the company plans to hire at least 10,000 more staffers in product and engineering roles in 2020.
Meanwhile, last month Zuckerberg said Facebook has canceled all large, in-person events through June 2021.
About 77% of Americans who normally work in an office environment are working at home, according to a survey conducted April 17-22 by staffing firm Robert Half International. Of those, 60% said their work/life balance has improved without a commute and 79% want employers to let them work from home more frequently in the future. On returning to regular work routines, 59% said they will reconsider attending in-person business events and 56% agreed that they worry about “being in close proximity” to others in the office.
When and how will Hollywood return to work? Variety Streaming Room is launching “Rebooting the Entertainment Industry,” a new series presented by PwC and Ad Council. The first episode, “The Entertainment & Media Workforce,” on Tuesday, May 12, at 10 a.m. PT, will feature WarnerMedia CTO Jeremy Legg, Verizon Media CTO Rathi Murthy, and PwC Workforce of the Future principal Jean Lee. Register for free at variety.com/rebootseries.
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