Google employees ‘more productive working from home’

Google's chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, said there had been a 'productivity lift' since sending workers home

Credit: Reuters

Google employees are more productive working from home in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, its finance chief has claimed. 

Ruth Porat said that the company had no plans to open offices sooner than the June 2021 date it set for workers to return, even with the widespread hope that vaccines from pharma giants Moderna and Pfizer will be readily available by Spring.

Speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference, Ms Porat, formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief financial officer, said Google was in no rush because, “working from home is working” and "there is a productivity lift from not needing to come into the office". 

As one of the first to tell employees to stay home back in March this year, Google is now finding it more challenging to bring people back and while executives believe that innovation comes from people working together, it wants to facilitate flexible working. 

Ms Porat said: “There is a range of what people are hoping for in this new normal and our expectation on returning to the office – which is frankly substantially more complicated than everyone home – is that we will end up in a hybrid environment with some in the office and some at home.”

Since shutting offices in the UK, US and around the world for all but essential work earlier this year, the company has been conducting polls to monitor how well workers are executing from their living rooms. 

It noticed a slight dip in productivity in the first few weeks among junior employees.  To correct this, senior staff were coached in how to help those in need and the frequency of virtual meetings were increase. Managers have been checking in on staff member to make sure they are aware that the company is “caring” for workers, both in their careers and for their health and safety, which has helped the workforce become “more closely connected,” Ms Porat claimed. 

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Google was one of the first companies to set a date for a return to the office, announcing in July that workers would not be expected back for almost a year. 

Ms Porat said the decision was good for employee’s “wellness” so they could plan their lives. 

When its doors eventually open, Google is planning to refresh its office space to make it fit for flexible working and collaboration but still retain “the quirky fun feel Google is known for,” Ms Porat added. 

“Some people will be coming home well before that date,” she said. “We will grow into people coming back”. 

Mark Zuckerberg this year claimed that half of Facebook’s 45,000 employees will work from home within a decade.

Jack Dorsey told Twitter employees that they would be able to work from home indefinitely in May. 

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