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May 6, 2021updated 07 May 2021 8:48am

Google makes remote working U-turn and announces hybrid solution

By Eric Johansson

Google has seemingly backtracked on its office polices, having previously told employees they’d only be allowed 14 days of flexible working and only if given special permission. The search giant has now joined the growing group of tech titans embracing remote working.

The $2tn behemoth has unveiled a smattering of new flexible working benefits, including offering employees a new hybrid work week, remote working opportunities and work-from-anywhere weeks. However, not all staff members will be able to enjoy the new perks.

“The future of work at Google is flexibility,” CEO Sundar Pichai said in a tweet. “The majority of our employees still want to be on campus some of the time yet many would also enjoy the flexibility of working from home a couple days a week, spending time in another city for part of the year or even moving there permanently. Google’s future workplace will have room for all of these possibilities.”

In a note to Googlers, he told them that they will be given the option of working three days in the office and two days “wherever they work best.” Employees won’t, however, have free reign about what days they can scuttle off to the home office. Instead, those days will be dependent on their team and what area they work in. Pichai noted that the three days in the office per week may not be enough for some roles “due to the nature of the work.”

Some workers will also be given the choice to work from home completely and the chance to relocate to new offices, wherever they might be. Both the off-site working and the office relocation opportunities will depend on what each individual employee’s role is and whether their tasks can be performed outside their regular office.

Additionally, staff will be given the opportunity to enjoy four work-from-anywhere weeks per year, pending manager approval. “The goal here is to give everyone more flexibility around summer and holiday travel,” Pichai said.

Google’s remote working announcement is part of a bigger trend. Market analysts believe more companies will embrace remote working as lockdown restrictions ease around the world. Businesses like Coinbase, HSBC, Salesforce, Facebook and Twitter have all pledged to provide more flexible working opportunities in the future. In the UK, 43 of the 50 biggest companies have said that they don’t plan to bring back staff to the office full-time, instead opting for a mixture of home and office working.

Covering the topic in a new GlobalData thematic research report, analysts wrote that office work won’t be the same after Covid-19. “Physical spaces will be transformed and remote working, supported by technology, will become the norm for millions of employees,” they wrote.

“The nature of employment will change, with more hybrid work between offices and remote working. Individual properties will be better positioned to facilitate this trend as smart homes incorporate IoT and fibre broadband to ensure seamless workflows.”