Google will keep its employees at home at least until next July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, marking the largest tech company to commit to such a schedule in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The chief executive of parent company Alphabet Inc, Sundar Pichai, himself made the decision last week after a debate among an internal group of senior executives he chairs, according to the report, which cited anonymous insiders .
Google did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
Google previously said it would start reopening more offices around the world as early as June of this year, but most Google employees would likely be working from home until the end of this year.
Most tech companies have had employees working remotely since the Covid-19 outbreak intensified in early March, and several have expressed their intention to continue these policies indefinitely.
In May, Twitter announced that it would let employees who wish to have it work from home “forever” and Facebook said it expects at least half of its employees to work remotely during the five to the next ten years.
The announcements come as Covid-19 makes open floor plans and shared spaces untenable for the foreseeable future, forcing businesses in various industries to reinvent office work.
It also marks a shift from the intense focus during the tech boom of the past decade on lavish work campuses and office perks. Google’s Mountain View headquarters spans over 12 acres and offers features like volleyball courts, gourmet dining rooms, and swimming pools.
For years, Google has sparked controversy over its role in gentrification after it began transporting employees from San Francisco to the South Bay campus on private buses from 2013.
Studies show that the role played by headquarters and transportation technology in the San Francisco Bay Area in recent years appears to be about to change fundamentally. A survey of thousands of tech workers released in May found that two in three Bay Area employees would consider moving if they had the option of working remotely indefinitely.
A potential exodus of tech workers from the Bay Area will also affect rent prices which have been climbing steadily for years, fueled by the tech boom. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco fell 11.8% year over year in June, following a 9% year-over-year decline in May.