Omicron impact: Google delays January return-to-office plans indefinitely

Search giant Google has indefinitely pushed back its return-to-office plans for January globally due to concerns over the Omicron COVID-19 variant and resistance to company-mandated vaccination against the contagion.

Google executives told employees that the company will extend the deadline beyond January 10. The company stated that the update was in line with Google’s guidance that its return-to-work policy would not kick in before January 10 and will depend on local conditions, news agency Reuters reported.

“Beyond January 10, we will enable countries and locations to make determinations on when to end voluntary work-from-home based on local conditions,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email.

Around 40 per cent of US employees have started coming to office in recent weeks, Google said. The news agency also stated that hundreds of Google employees have protested against the company’s mandatory vaccination policy for those working on US contracts.

Google was one of the first US companies to ask employees to work from home during the coronavirus crisis and has 85 offices across nearly 60 countries. Europe has reported 79 Omicron variant cases so far and half of these were asymptomatic and the other half showed only mild symptoms.

There were no cases featuring severe diseases, hospitalisation or death. Of cases that have data on age and vaccination status, majority were young and fully vaccinated, as per the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

(With agency inputs)

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