Back in March, Google was one of the first companies to have employees work remotely in response to COVID-19. The expected return date has been pushed back several times now, with the latest target being September 2021. At that time, a “flexible workweek” will be tested.

In a memo to employees on Sunday evening (via The New York Times), CEO Sundar Pichai announced the new September target for office reopenings.

As expected, Googlers will be returning to a reconfigured workspace. Google will be piloting a “flexible workweek” where employees spend at least three “collaboration days” on campus. The company has long believed that unplanned face-to-face interactions at cafes and micro-kitchens help spur new ideas and solutions. As such, Google has worked to provide various perks that allow employees to stay onsite with coworkers.

“We are testing a hypothesis that a flexible work model will lead to greater productivity, collaboration, and well-being,” Mr. Pichai wrote in an email obtained by The New York Times. “No company at our scale has ever created a fully hybrid work force model — though a few are starting to test it — so it will be interesting to try.”

Teams can reserve collaboration spaces for up to a dozen people, while larger gatherings will take place outdoors. Single desks will also be available with these reconfigured spaces designed to lower the risk of spreading. 

Google’s test of a flexible workweek will ultimately depend on local scenarios — with internships remaining virtual next year, while this planning comes as vaccines are beginning to arrive. The company will look into helping employees get the vaccine, but first recommends they follow guidance from their health authorities:

Google has said it is looking for opportunities in mid-to-late 2021 to help make Covid-19 vaccines available to its workers, but only after high-risk and high-priority people globally have received the vaccines.

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