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In the first announcement of its kind, Google to Keep Employees Home Until Summer 2021.

Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, making the search-engine giant the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timetable.

The move will affect nearly all of the roughly 200,000 full-time and contract employees across Google parent Alphabet Inc., and is sure to pressure other technology giants that have slated staff to return as soon as January.

Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among Google Leads, an internal group of top executives that he chairs, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

“I know it hasn’t been easy,” Mr. Pichai wrote in a note to staff Monday, after The Wall Street Journal reported the impending extension. “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.”

What Other Companies Are Doing

Work-From-Home Lessons

The Google announcement adds emphasis to WSJ report The Work-From-Home Shift Shocked Companies—Now They’re Learning Its Lessons

Despite its speed, we’re still in the earliest stages of the Work-From-Home Revolution, and it could take years or even decades of trial and error to get right.

The number of Americans working solely from home has at least doubled, and possibly tripled, since before the pandemic. At its peak in early May, 52% of employed Americans reported always working from home, and another 18% reported sometimes working from home, for a total of 70%, according to a survey by polling firm Gallup. That represents more than 100 million people in the U.S. alone. In the week ending July 12, the total declined to 53%. Even that is significantly higher than the 43% of workers who reported working from home at least part time in 2016, the last time Gallup asked Americans about their work-from-home habits.

The Next Normal

Gallup explains How Coronavirus Will Change the 'Next Normal' Workplace.

In three weeks, the percentage of employees working from home doubled, from 31% to 62%. Some jobs were already set up to work from home, others were configured to work from remote environments part of the time, and still others had to transition quickly and completely from 0% to 100% remote.

Even the NFL commissioner and coaches worked from home during the draft this year, with some claiming significant benefits to their wellbeing.

Employee Perspective

Employee Perspective on Work-From-Home

Enormous Impact

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Work-From-Home is here to stay with major consequences. 

  1. Companies need less office space and less furniture. 
  2. Less air travel
  3. Fewer hotel stays
  4. People who work at home will eat at home, not go out for lunch

Companies were forced into this setup but it is here to stay. 

In addition, mask requirements (who likes wearing them?) will have more people shopping online. The online shopping trend was already in place, but Covid accelerated it.

Add it up and there are more fast food restaurants, malls, airplanes, etc. than we need.

More Than Half of Business Closures are Permanent

On July 22, I commented More Than Half of Business Closures are Permanent

A friend challenged, these closures will reopen under another owner or name following bankruptcy.

Four Questions

  1. Will they?
  2. With as much business as before?
  3. With as many employees?
  4. In what timeframe?

Work-at-home is here to stay and so are the impacts, especially office space and commercial real estate. 

In addition, many millions who cannot work from home are in serious trouble with a loss of job or reduced hours.