Google expects its staff to work from home until 2021 and it's not alone

So, you expect life and work to be back to normal soon? Google and many other companies don't.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

According to a Bloomberg report, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, told Google employees on Thursday to be ready to work remotely through October and possibly to the end of the year. Actually, a Google spokeswoman said most Google workers are expected to work from home until 2021. 

So, life's going back to normal? Not at this tech giant. 

It's not just Google. Facebook has also told its staffers that most of them can continue to work from home through the end of the year. Zillow, the online real-estate company, has also announced that its people can work from home until 2021. And, Sagicor, a major Caribbean's insurance provider, announced their employees would be working from home until 2021.

Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina and other states are encouraging businesses to re-open. Businesses aren't nearly as optimistic as these governments are. A recent HR survey found 62% of employers plan on keeping people working from home until experts, not politicians, agree it's safe to go back to work.

Some businesses are exploring reopening their offices but asking their employees to continue to work at home part of the week. By reducing the number of staffers at work at any one time they'll be able to maintain social distancing in the office.

Andrew Hewitt, a Forrester analyst, thinks this is a good idea. "You bring people back in shifts, you stagger it. You certainly don't bring everybody together." Business leaders need to decide on who they absolutely must have in the office, and plan so as to reduce the health risk to everyone.

It's not just the office managers who've warmed up to people working from home. A Glassdoor survey showed "67% of employees would support the decision by their employer to mandate employees 'work from home indefinitely.'"  

Generally speaking younger workers are more confident about this than their older counterparts, "68% of employees aged 18-34 reported being confident in doing their work remotely if they have to, compared to 44% of employees aged 55-64." Interestingly,  "71% of employed parents with children under age 18 said that they feel confident they can efficiently do their job remotely."

IT management is also OK with this new work from home model.  An IDG survey found 71% say the coronavirus pandemic "has created a more positive view of remote workplaces." This is already making them look at "how they plan for office space, tech staffing and overall staffing in the future."

Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) thinks, even after the novel coronavirus is finally corralled, many workers won't be returning to the office. GWA's President Kate Lister, said, "Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021."

Why? Both because they've found 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. And, what's far more important, managers and executives are finding their remote workers are, well, still working. Lister said:

One of the biggest holdbacks of remote work is trust—managers simply don't trust their people to work untethered. They're used to managing by counting butts-in-seats, rather than by results. That's not managing, that's baby-sitting. What's more, seeing the back of someone's head tells a manager nothing about whether that person is actually working. When clients ask "How will I know if they're working?" I ask "How do you know they are working now?" 

Moving ahead, as we get on top of the pandemic, work may never be the same. Working from home, may go from being an exception to the rule. 

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