Tech Companies Postponing Office Returns Amidst COVID-19

From a logistics perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare for many companies. In March and April, everyone from CEOs to sysadmins and help-desk specialists had to figure out how to get entire workforces operating from home as quickly as possible. And now, as states struggle for some semblance of normal, these same companies have to determine the best way to get everyone (safely) back to the office. 

Given the complexity and challenges of such an endeavor, it’s no surprise that many companies have delayed their plans to return employees to their office desks. For example, Google now plans to let its employees work from home until mid-2021. And Google isn’t alone: Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists about recent events (as well as their preferences), recently asked if their respondents’ companies had delayed return-to-work plans.

Let’s look at the breakdown of the most prominent technology companies:

An exceedingly small percentage of respondents said that their company hadn’t postponed those return-to-work plans in some way. The varying percentages here are interesting; why would different respondents report different postponements at the same company? It might have something to do with individual offices and teams; for example, Apple has been gradually introducing select employees (such as those dealing with some kinds of hardware) back into its facilities while allowing others to continue working from home. In light of that, some of these responses could reflect what a particular team is doing, rather than the company overall. 

In the meantime, though, another Blind survey shows that many of the largest technology companies are doing a pretty good job of providing workers with the resources they need to get their tasks done at home:

Even as some companies are actively drawing employees back to the office, others have decided to allow their workforces to continue operating from home. Facebook and Twitter employees, for instance, no longer have to head into the office on a daily basis, even after this crisis passes (however, Facebook employees who take advantage of this permanent remote-work option will need to take a pay cut if they move someplace with a lower cost of living).   

As revealed by the ongoing Dice Sentiment Survey, it’s also clear that technologists generally enjoy working from home, although they also like the idea of a flexible schedule (i.e., some days spent in the office, and others working from home). Only an exceedingly small percentage expressed any sort of willingness to take a pay cut to continue working from home, and many feel that they’re as productive (if not more) than if they were in the office. Companies might be delaying their office re-openings, in other words, but many technologists are just fine with their home workstation for the time being.