The coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to embrace working from home. And for some, the transition will last much longer than others.
Google has announced that its staff will work from home until at least July 2021. The company is the first technology company to publicly commit to keeping its remote working policies in place into next year, in an attempt to give employees more clarity on how long they would be working from home.
Other tech companies – including Facebook and Twitter – have suggested that most employees could work remotely indefinitely, even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
We dig deeper to see how different tech giants are reacting to working from home, plus what lessons those of us at smaller businesses could learn.
Remote Working: What is Google Doing?
Google has announced that its staff will work from home until at least July 2021.
The change will affect “nearly all” of Google’s 200,000 employees, including contractors and full-time workers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
In a blog post in May, Google announced it would begin reopening its offices from early July this year. This was only to allow those staff who wanted or needed to come back, and was done on a “limited, rotating basis”, the blog said.
Google has stressed to its staff that coming back to the office would be “voluntary through the end of the year, and we encourage you to continue to work from home if you can”.
“To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30 2021, for roles that don't need to be in the office. I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months.” – Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, wrote in an email to employees
Remote Working: What Is Twitter Doing?
Twitter will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home “forever,” if they choose.
The company stated in a blog post that working from home for the past several months has shown that it can work at scale for the long haul.
The post suggested that although Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work-from-home model in the face of COVID-19, “we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices.”
Twitter has not specified which roles will qualify for working from home. But, it certainly seems to have its employees’ wellbeing at the heart of its decisions.
“If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return.” – Twitter blog post
Remote Working: What is Facebook doing?
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that as many as 50% of Facebook employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.
In the short-term, Facebook employees can work from home until 2021, though offices reopened on 6th July for those who needed to come in.
Facebook will permanently embrace remote work, even after coronavirus lockdowns ease, to accelerate the company’s geographic diversification away from its home in Silicon Valley. Zuckerberg pitched the idea as both a matter of satisfying employee desires, and also as an effort to create “more broad-based economic prosperity.”
“We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with the Verge.
“We need to do this in a way that’s thoughtful and responsible, so we’re going to do this in a measured way. But I think that it’s possible that over the next five to 10 years – maybe closer to 10 than five, but somewhere in that range – I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently.”
Working From Home Best Practice
Only about 29% of workers had the option to work from home between 2017 and 2018, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Needless to say, that number has shifted drastically over the past few months.
When coronavirus hit the US, many employers had to clamber to get their workforce to transition to remote working for the first time. This presented problems for everything from project management and objective setting, to infrastructure security and ergonomic desk setup.
Make sure your staff have the right tools to stay secure and productive when working from home by following our top tips below:
- Project Management – Keeping teams focused on key goals and outcomes can feel tricky even in a collaborative office environment. With colleagues distanced during remote working, it’s even more vital to pick an effective project management tool to help track progress against key initiatives.
- Password managers – With a good password manager, you can ensure that your accounts are secure at all times. These platforms provide you with a single key that can unlock all your accounts, securely keeping everything safe in one location
- VPNs – While they can't necessarily protect you from phishing scams, a good VPN can help protect your online activity from other nefarious forces online, particularly when using public WiFi connections
- Antivirus software – A good antivirus software provider will allow you to search, clean, and protect your computer or other devices from viruses, so that you won't lose personal information or have to buy a new one
Remote work could be here for the long term. And, as big tech companies lead the way, trends of offering flexible or even permanent remote working will doubtless continue.