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How tech giants that made remote work possible are coaxing employees back to the office (Innodata)

Posted by Shivali Anand

June 25, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic quickly made working from home a reality for businesses around the world. Among the first companies to consider employees' safety and send workers home were the technology giants of Silicon Valley. Now these same companies are trying to figure out how and whether onsite staff should return. 

Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and other tech titans are beginning to reopen their offices in different capacities at various locations worldwide while gathering information that will likely permanently change the face of workplaces. Some are assessing their options for the future, planning for at least some return to work on dazzling tech campuses they spent billions to construct. 

The trend among most tech businesses is either encouraging or requiring workers to return to the office a few days a week, usually three. Some, like Google and Apple, are introducing periods of remote work time so that employees may take two or more weeks off in which they can work from anywhere they choose. Other companies, such as Facebook, are allowing employees to apply to work entirely from home, provided their jobs are viable as 100% remote.

Below is a recap of some tech giants’ preparations for the post-pandemic return to work:


The company has announced that when its offices reopen, most employees will be able to work remotely up to 50% of the time given that their jobs allow it, and that the employee so chooses. Like many others, including Slack and Twitter, the company polled its employees to determine how they wanted their work lives to change after the pandemic. Many people wish to return to work at least part-time in-office work at their current company, while a smaller percentage wants to return full-time work at the office.

At Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus, hygienic boxed lunches have replaced hot catering and shuttle services among the dozens of buildings have been suspended until more employees return.



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in mid-June that the company would allow full-time employees whose jobs can be done remotely to work from home. Those who wish to return to the office will be required to do so at least 50% of the time to help maintain office culture.

Some Facebook employees are dissatisfied with the mechanism for determining who may work exclusively from home. But according to Facebook, over 90% of those who have asked to work 100% remotely have been accepted.


The company has publicly stated that it is dedicated to enabling hybrid work culture and establishing a post-pandemic workplace that will accommodate workers who have become accustomed to working from home over the previous year.

When workers do return to the office, most likely in September, the firm will urge but not require that employees be vaccinated beforehand. And the interiors of Google's buildings may not appear to be all that different at first glance, but the company will be testing new office design configurations in millions of square feet of space, or roughly 10% of its worldwide work areas, over the next year or two.

Google is famous for its colorful slides between floors, outdoor volleyball courts and free food. But in keeping with pandemic-era safety needs, the company has invested in robotically inflated balloon walls that can be used to give more privacy and isolation. Circular conference rooms with a camera in the center and TV displays around the edges allow those calling in to view and interact with in-office colleagues.

Cafeterias will switch from catered lunches to packaged, grab-and-go meals. Snacks will be individually packaged rather than scooped from huge bins. Massage sites and gyms will be closed. The company will also continue its suspension of shuttle buses.


The company recently revealed its stance on remote employment, stating that workers would need to be back in the office by September three days a week. Only Wednesdays and Fridays will be allowed for working from home.


 During the pandemic, Uber's new facility in San Francisco's Mission Bay was built. The office was established to hold 5,000 workers and remained empty for months until it welcomed back a small cadre of staff in late March. 

Although employees can work remotely until Sept 13, Uber said it would return to its pre-pandemic remote employment policies, meaning employees would be required to work at least three days a week in the office where they originally worked.


 The social media platform’s San Francisco headquarters has been transformed, according to Chief Human Resources Officer Jennifer Christie, who announced that a remote-work policy that was already in place during the pandemic would be made permanent. There will be no assigned desks or team locations when Twitter partially reopens July 12. Instead, some areas will be designated as "quiet," while others will be designated as "social."

The company will continue to have all-company meetings via video conference, as it did previously in the auditorium of its San Francisco headquarters, she added. Employees at a particular level, including executives, will be required to work partially from home so that those who do not come into the office are not left behind.


Shivali Anand
Shivali Anand

Shivali Anand is a content developer at Escalon Business Services. Her expertise lies in creating consistent and relevant B2B marketing, SEO and social media content. She is armed with a PG Diploma in English Journalism from the IIMC Dhenkanal, Odisha. After starting as a travel writer, she embarked upon a career as a copyeditor, news content specialist, and researcher across organizations including Ministry of MSME, Vaco Binary Semantics LLP, Doordarshan News, and New Delhi Times.

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