Faced with the nationwide escalation in COVID-19 infections, Google has announced that all of its North American employees should work from home until April 10.
“Contributing to social distancing if you are able to, helps the overall community spread and most importantly, will help offset the peak loads through critical healthcare systems and also saves it for people in need,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a March 10 Tweet.
Apple, Facebook, IBM, and other tech firms are likewise encouraging their employees to work from home. However, Google is also taking the additional step of setting up a fund that will “enable all our temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined,” according to a Google corporate blog posting.
This fund, the posting continued, will “mean that members of our extended workforce will be compensated for their normal working hours if they can’t come into work for these reasons.” (Google defines its “extended workforce” as vendors for campus services, temporary staff, and others.)
In a survey conducted by Blind between March 4-5, some 34.2 percent of Google employees said they were working from home due to COVID-19, a lower number than at any firms:
(One caveat: Blind conducts anonymous surveys, which isn’t a totally scientific method of data collection, as it’s impossible to verify someone’s actual employer; nonetheless, we assume that the majority of respondents in this context are truthful.)
The Blind data suggested that Google employees at the time were also generally unhappy with the company’s response to the emerging virus:
Concern over the spread of COVID-19 has already forced the shutdown of South by Southwest (SXSW), Mobile World Congress (MWC), and Google’s big I/O conference. The big question is whether Apple will continue to hold WWDC, its big developer event usually scheduled for summer.