COVID-19 has dramatically changed the world as we know it, and one area that’s experienced irreversible changes in the way we work. Work from home has become the norm, and when people return to work normally in the office, it’s yet to be seen how that’s going to look.
One company that understands these changes is Google. Last week, Google’s CEO, Sundar Chai, said that its renowned offices might be different for employees once it’s safe for them to resume operations in the office. Google is currently adapting to the situation and making changes to its location to ensure it’s able to support its employees in the future through “hybrid models” of work.
Video interview with Time 100
In a video interview with Time 100, Pichai said he sees the future as “being more flexible.” He further added, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new”. Furthermore, he said, “So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something.”
Being one of the first few major tech companies to state that its employees might be working from home until the Summer of next year, Google is currently revamping its office to make way for on-site days when employees majorly working from home will work in the office. Initially, this announcement was made to accommodate employees whose children were either entirely or partially studying remotely for the school year.
Period of tremendous uncertainty
However, Pichai added that “Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could,” he said. “The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan … and it was affecting productivity.”
Such a long-term decision for the entire company cemented the realization that the concept of work from home isn’t going anywhere. These recent changes will have a significant impact on those living in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the most expensive city in the United States for those looking to buy a house, affordability has been a massive issue for employees working at the company.
The high living expenses often force people to opt for housing outside the area where Google is located. This causes them to incur hours-long commute times, making it difficult for them to attain work-life balance. Regarding this, Pichai added, “It’s always made me wonder when I see people commuting two hours and away from their families and friends, on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans,” he further said. “So, I think we can do better.”
For years now, Google has stood by its principles of ensuring the office is a fun space with reduced friction to maximize productivity. However, as Pichai added, it also aims to improve its employees’ personal lives, and it’s evident it’ll strive to do so in a post-COVID world.