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Google Expects To Start Welcoming Back U.S. Workers In April

Switching back to in-office work will remain voluntary until September for all Googlers who are non-essential employees whose in-person presence isn’t required.

Google expects to start welcoming back employees to some of its U.S. offices on a voluntary basis in the next month, the company said Wednesday.

U.S. offices will begin to reopen in a limited capacity based on specific criteria that includes increases in COVID-19 vaccine availability and downward trends in COVID-19 cases, according to a spokesperson for the Mountain View, Calif., company.

Since the situation remains dynamic, the spokesperson said, Google will continue taking a “phased and deliberate” approach to safely bringing back more people to the office where it can.

Switching back to in-office work will remain voluntary until September for all Googlers who are non-essential employees whose in-person presence isn’t required.

Google is not requiring vaccinations for employees to return to in-office work, but is “strongly encouraging it,” according to the spokesperson.

In early March 2020, Google was one of the first major U.S. companies to advise its North American employees to work from home if their roles allowed. The changing nature of the pandemic has forced it to push back its expected reopening dates in the last year.

Seattle-based Amazon on Tuesday also updated its office guidance, saying its plan was to return to an “office-centric culture as our baseline,” and that it expected most of its U.S. employees to be back by early fall.

“We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate and learn together most effectively,” Amazon posted on its COVID-19 vaccination and testing blog. “The timelines for returning to the office will vary by country, depending on the infection and vaccination rates, and we expect our return to the office to be gradual.”

Amazon’s offices remain open, and approximately 10 percent of its corporate staff currently works from its offices each day, the company said.

“In the U.S., as vaccines become broadly available in the next few months, we expect more people will start coming into the office through the summer, with most back in the office by early fall,” Amazon said. “In some countries in Europe, we expect in-person working to take longer given recent setbacks.”

Amazon employees in many parts of Asia already already have returned to working in its office, according to the company.

Restaurants and shops in Amazon buildings also are expected to reopen soon.

“As always, we maintain strong safety protocols, such as temperature screenings upon entry, physical distancing guidelines, face covering requirements, office occupancy limits and enhanced cleaning in all offices,” Amazon said. “As we transition back to the office, please continue to follow health authority and local government guidelines.”

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