The tech industry has been at the forefront of letting employees work from home in response to COVID-19. Google today detailed the impact of the coronavirus on its workforce and products.

Last week, Googlers in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa were instructed to work remotely. There was an exception for those “critical to business continuity,” with today’s blog post explaining how “some important jobs can only be done onsite.” This includes employees that “need to access the most sensitive content or account data for user and customer safety and security,” like accessing accounts after hacks.

Those that do have to come in will see adjusted shifts to “promote social distancing and reduce the number of people in the office at a given time.” This includes changes to “the timing of shifts, the timing between shifts, and the number of people on a given shift based on the work required.” Google has also “significantly enhanced [its] hygiene and cleaning operations” ranging from increased people spacing to temperature checks.

The company is prioritizing certain support “workflows” like security and account recovery, as well as advertising-related reviews, to “reduce the need for support staff.” On Friday, we noted how Google was already warning about longer wait times. The company acknowledged those new support wait times for “non-critical services” and a shift to chat, email, and help articles.

Meanwhile, to help reduce the number of people physically coming in, Google is increasing automation across its platforms, with YouTube detailing a number of changes. This impacts services with user-generated content —  like apps —  and advertising.

Lastly, Google is increasing the ability for employees, temporary staff, and vendors to work from home by rolling out remote access and equipment. This includes “secure laptops,” with one early criticism of the company having been not granting the same remote work opportunities to temporary staff.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: