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How tech companies are bringing people back to the office

Posted by Shivali Anand

August 13, 2021    |     4-minute read (793 words)

Work-from-home became a reality for businesses throughout the world when the COVID-19 pandemic descended. Silicon Valley's tech firms were among the first to consider their employees' safety and to introduce work from home. Now these same firms are attempting to figure out how to bring workers back on-site. 

Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and others are reopening their offices in various capacities while also gathering information that will likely forever transform the workplace. Some workers are mulling whether to return to the office at all and eyeing different paths, but more are preparing to return to work on the extravagant campuses that cost billions to construct

Most IT companies are encouraging or requiring employees to return to the office a few days per week, generally three. Some companies, like Google and Apple, are allowing workers to work remotely for two or more weeks at a time. Employees at Facebook, can work entirely from home if their duties are deemed appropriate for the arrangement. 

An overview of several tech firms' post-pandemic preparations may be seen below:

Microsoft

The tech giant has stated that employees in the United States would be required to provide evidence of vaccination to enter the office starting in September. The firm has pushed back its reopening date to "no sooner than October 4."

 When the company's offices reopen, most workers will be allowed to work remotely up to 50% of the time if their positions allow it and the employee so chooses. Like many others including Slack and Twitter, Microsoft polled its workers to see how they wanted their work-life to alter following the pandemic. Many people want to return to work at their present business, at least part-time in the office, while a smaller number wants to return to the office full-time.

Facebook

In mid-June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that full-time workers whose tasks can be done remotely would be able to work from home. Those who desire to return to work will be expected to sustain the office culture by working on-site at least half of the time.

Some Facebook employees are reportedly unsatisfied with the system for deciding who is allowed to work from home solely. However, according to Facebook, over 90% of individuals who have requested to work entirely remotely were accepted.

Google

The firm has publicly stated that it is committed to supporting a hybrid work culture and creating a post-pandemic workplace that will accommodate employees now accustomed to working from home.

In the wake of the recent Covid-19 outbreaks, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the firm is extending its office return period for employees until October 18. Pichai also stated everybody going to the workplace would be required to get vaccinated.

The interiors of Google's buildings may not appear to be all that different at first look. But the firm will be testing new office layouts across millions of square feet of space, or approximately 10% of its global workspaces.

Google is known for its vibrant floor slides, outdoor volleyball courts, and free meals. However, the business has invested in robotically inflated balloon barriers that may provide additional privacy and isolation in a pandemic. Those calling in may watch and engage with in-office colleagues in circular conference rooms with a camera in the middle and TV monitors around the edges.

Cafeterias will begin serving packed, grab-and-go meals instead of catered lunches. Instead of being scooped from large bins, snacks will be individually packed. Massage parlors and fitness centers will be closed. The business will also maintain its shuttle bus suspension.

Apple

After initially stating that corporate staff should be back in the office at least three days a week by early September Apple has pushed its return-to-office plans until October at the earliest. Meanwhile, employees must wear masks at most of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's US retail outlets.

Uber

Uber's new facility in San Francisco's Mission Bay was developed during the pandemic. The facility, designed to accommodate 5,000 employees, sat unused for months until being reopened in late March with a small group of employees.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company pushed back its scheduled return-to-work date from September to Oct. 25 and warned employees that it might be further postponed. Employees in the Uber headquarters will also be required to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

Twitter

The social network firm paused future reopening and closed its San Francisco and New York offices just two weeks after reopening them in mid-July, citing revised CDC mask guidelines and "present conditions."

Twitter had already declared that a remote-work policy in effect during the epidemic would be made permanent. When Twitter partly reopened on July 12, there were no allocated desks or team locations. Instead, certain places were labelled "silent," while others were labelled "social." 

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