By Mike Murphy
Lyft Inc., which had aimed for a February return to offices, will allow employees to work remotely for all of 2022.
While a Lyft /zigman2/quotes/208999293/composite LYFT -0.97% spokesperson said the change was not directly tied to the new omicron variant, the move comes as a number of large companies are adjusting their reopening plans amid fresh concerns about COVID-19.
Last week, Alphabet Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/202490156/lastsale GOOGL -2.75% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -3.29% Google scrapped its Jan. 10 target date for working at the office , until the tech giant can be more confident of a “stable, long-term working environment.” Lyft’s ride-sharing rival, Uber Technologies Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211348248/composite UBER +0.12% also delayed its return date indefinitely . Earlier this week, Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook said it will still reopen at the end of January, but will give employees the option of postponing their return until as late as June . Neither Google nor Facebook mentioned omicron as a reason.
Lyft said Wednesday its changes are to provide employees more flexibility.
“We’ve heard from our team members that they value continued flexibility in determining where they work and would benefit from additional time to plan,” a Lyft spokesperson said in an email to MarketWatch. “We want to give people a choice for all of next year. Offices will fully reopen as planned in February, but working from the office will be completely optional for all of 2022.”
Bloomberg News first reported Lyft’s change of plans Wednesday.
In July, Lyft delayed its return-to-office plans by six months, to Feb. 2, 2022, amid a summer COVID surge.
Little is known yet about the new omicron variant , which was first discovered in late November; early data suggests it may be more transmissible than delta, but causes less severe symptoms.
But after multiple COVID surges over the past year and a half and repeated delays when it comes to returning to offices, companies appear to be taking a cautious approach.
“At a minimum, omicron slows down return-to-office,” Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Nov. 29 investor note, calling it a “hiccup” in companies’ plans.
Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC +0.74% , which had delayed its return to offices from September to January, said last week that those plans are unchanged , though “we will continue to follow the science.”
Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +2.44% pushed back its return from January to Feb. 1 , and Ford Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -7.61% is now aiming for a March return . Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -8.43% , DoorDash Inc. /zigman2/quotes/222973991/composite DASH -7.48% and Salesforce.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200515854/composite CRM -2.06% are among major companies planning to return in January — at least for now. Twitter Inc. has said its employees can work remotely indefinitely.