- Tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have announced plans — with varying degrees of specificity — outlining how employees might return to their offices this year.
- Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have set dates that their offices will tentatively reopen this summer.
- Those three companies, along with Amazon, will still allow most employees to keep working from home through the fall.
- Tech giants returning to work are relying on safety measures like thermal cameras, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitizer to reduce the chance of COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As states prepare to lift COVID-19 stay-at-home orders across the US, some of tech’s biggest players have started to solidify their timelines for reopening their offices.
In the past week, companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have started to tell employees when they can expect to return to work in the coming year.
Several of the tech giants have plans to reopen offices this summer as shelter-in-place orders are lifted, but encouraged most employees to keep working from home for much longer.
Companies returning to offices will face unprecedented challenges to stave off potential COVID-19 outbreaks among employees. Some, like Amazon, are turning to high-tech solutions like thermal cameras that screen workers for fever. Experts say offices may have to implement sneeze guards, one-way corridors, and staggered hours to reduce the density of employees.
Here’s how tech giants are planning to return to offices in the coming year.
Amazon said employees who can work from home will be allowed to keep doing so until at least October 2.
Amid COVID-19 shutdowns, most attention on Amazon has focused on the company’s warehouse workers, which have seen a spike in demand as Americans turn to the company’s delivery as an essential service. Amazon hired 175,000 new warehouse workers last month and had more than 798,000 workers worldwide as of December.
While warehouses have remained open, Amazon’s white-collar employees have been working from home since March. They’ll be able to continue to do so until at least October, Amazon announced last week.
The company hasn’t set a specific date that its offices will reopen, but told Reuters that it will implement “physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and the availability of face coverings and hand sanitizer.”
Microsoft also told employees they’ll have the option to keep working from home through October.
Microsoft’s offices have been closed since March in accordance with government mandated stay-at-home orders.
This week, the company notified employees that even as those orders are lifted, they will have the option to work from home, a company spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.
Stay-at-home orders in Washington, where Microsoft is headquartered, are set to expire May 31 at the earliest. Microsoft didn’t clarify whether employees will be allowed to return to the office as soon as the restrictions lift.
Facebook says it will reopen offices in July, but told employees that they can continue to work from home for the rest of 2020.
Facebook will begin to reopen offices on July 6, but most employees will still to be allowed to work remotely for the rest of the year, the company told workers this week.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in April that Facebook employees will be encouraged to keep working from home to reduce density as other companies that don’t have that option return to business as usual.
“We know that most people can’t work from home as easily as many of our employees can. We also know that when society does eventually start re-opening, it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely and that we minimize the possibility of future outbreaks,” Zuckerberg said.
Google told employees that they should plan to work from home for the rest of the year, but a select few will return to offices in June.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told workers during an all-hands meeting this week that most employees can expect to keep working remotely for the rest of 2020.
However, some key employees will be able to go back to the office as early as June, Pichai said. Google said in April that it was planning a “staggered” approach to return to the office.
Apple has yet to clarify when offices will reopen, but the company has been implementing new management policies to adapt to remote work.
Apple temporarily closed its offices and all of its stores outside of China in March. This month, it’s started reopening Apple Store locations in South Korea, Austria, and Australia. The company is taking precautionary measures in reopened stores like distributing hand sanitizer, taking shoppers’ temperatures with contact-free thermometers, and requiring that patrons wear masks.
Apple hasn’t publicly clarified plans for its white collar workers to return to offices in the US, but the company told CNET that it has implemented new management protocols to allow more flexibility for people working from home.
An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the company’s plans to return to offices.