By Mike Murphy
Google employees will not be returning to their offices as planned in January, as the threat of COVID-19 lingers.
Alphabet Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -2.50% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -2.50% Google sent an email to employees Thursday, CNBC first reported , saying that the Jan. 10 target date has been delayed again, until the tech giant can be more confident of a “stable, long-term working environment.” A new return date was not mentioned. The email reportedly did not specifically mention the omicron variant.
Under Google’s hybrid working plan, workers will be expected to work in the office at least three days a week once it’s safe to do so. In an email to MarketWatch, a Google spokesperson confirmed the contents of the email, and said the company will wait until the new year to determine the implementation of its hybrid plan based on local conditions, which can vary widely.
According to the Google spokesperson, 90% of Google’s U.S. offices are open, and about 40% of Google workers have come back to the office on a voluntary basis.
Separately, Business Insider reported earlier Thursday that Google’s return-to-the-office plans for its workers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have also been delayed , due to omicron and new travel restrictions.
The delays come as concern mounts over the newly discovered omicron variant of COVID-19 . While not enough is known about the variant, some experts worry it may be more contagious and more resistant to vaccines than previous COVID variants. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced beefed-up COVID testing this winter, and extended the mask mandate on airplanes and public transit.
Tech companies led the way in closing their offices when the pandemic ramped up in March 2020, and are seen as a bellwether as to when other companies will similarly require their workers to come into the office.
Google and other major companies had hoped to fully return to the office this past fall, but the spread of the delta variant pushed many to delay that date until January.
Last month, before the omicron variant was discovered, Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.89% pushed back its return date from January to Feb. 1 . Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -4.14% said earlier this week it still plans on returning to the office in January . Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.99% , DoorDash Inc. /zigman2/quotes/222973991/composite DASH -2.24% , Salesforce.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200515854/composite CRM -2.24% and Uber Technology Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER -7.47% also plan to return in January — at least for now.