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Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai detailed to employees how the company’s offices will slowly begin reopening as early as June, with 10% to 15% of workers in the office at any time, according to an internal email viewed by CNBC. However, the majority of people who are able to work from home will continue to do so, perhaps through the end of the year.
“We’re starting to really get the hang of these virtual meetings, though I do miss the experience of having so many of us in the same place,” Pichai wrote in an email to full-time employees on Thursday night. “It may be a while before that’s possible. Our ramp back to the office will be slow, deliberate and incremental.”
Pichai also addressed employee burnout, telling workers to take a day off in late May.
The update comes after Pichai previously told workers offices would remain closed until at least June 1, when the company would begin enacting a “staggered” approach to returning workers based on the latest conditions of the pandemic. Workers were also hoping they’d be able return within reason so they could access the campuses’ many amenities they’ve gone without since working from home.
It also comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the company’s employees Thursday that they would be allowed to continue to work from home through the end of 2020.
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Who’s coming back first?
Globally, Alphabet will be targeting to get 10% to 15% of workers in the office at any one time “to allow for the right precautions, with more able to come in periodically (as we can rotate).” For context, Pichai added that the company has less than 5% of global employees working from offices currently. Some sites in the Asia Pacific region are already at 30% of capacity “given where they are in their stage of dealing with this epidemic,” he wrote.
It expects the first employees to return will be those whose jobs require them to be in the office, such as those who need access to special equipment. “We know that many of you are eager to return, and we will take that into account too as we plan,” Pichai wrote.
The majority of people who are able to do their jobs from home will be working from home for longer, “potentially through the end of the year, although there will be moments or occasions where you are able to come into the office,” he added.
“If this sounds complex, that’s because it is,” Pichai continued in the memo. “We are a global company, with a range of products and teams, and this is a global crisis, manifesting in different ways in regions and countries,” Pichai stated. “We’re working through all the details and you will get more specific information from your teams/offices in the next few weeks.”
Pichai also addressed employee burnout, encouraging them to take a day off in late May.
“I know many of us have been running hard non-stop for a weeks now and may be experiencing some burnout,” he wrote. “So, I also used TGIF as a chance to announce an official day off on May 22,” he said. (TGIF is the nickname for the company’s periodic all-hands meetings, one of which took place on Thursday this week.) “Take the time to do whatever you need to do to prioritize your well-being.”
For locations where May 22 is not a workday, employees were told to work with managers to find a date in May that works for them.