CALIFORNIA: Google has said that it is indefinitely pushing back its January return-to-office plan globally amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and some resistance to company-mandated vaccinations.
Google executives told employees that the company would put off the deadline beyond that date. Google said the update was in line with its earlier guidance that a return to workplaces would begin no earlier than January 10 and depend on local conditions.
Nearly 40 percent of US employees have come into an office in recent weeks, Google said, with higher percentages in other parts of the world.
On the other hand, other companies are also beginning to consider different permanent work models for their employees as the coronavirus pandemic, and the spread of the Omicron variant, destabilise their latest return-to-office plans.
Countries moved swiftly this week to impose bans or tougher testing rules on travel after the Omicron variant was first uncovered in southern Africa. The World Health Organisation said as more countries report cases, the new Covid-19 variant carries a “very high” global risk of surges.
Scientists have said it could take weeks to understand its severity, although early indications were that most cases were mild. The prospect of a fast-spreading variant has raised fears of a return of the sort of restrictions that shut down a swath of industries in 2020.
More than half of US employers (57 percent) surveyed by Willis Towers Watson either require or plan to require vaccinations, in a poll released on Tuesday but which was conducted before Omicron was discovered.
Additionally, the survey found slightly more than a third of employees were working remotely and that was expected to drop to 27 percent in the first quarter of 2022.