Google’s all-hands meeting on Thursday was supposed to focus on updates to its Google Photos product and its work to promote racial equity. Among the questions staff most wanted senior executives to answer, however, were those concerning the company’s future work-from-home policy. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the company was still considering the possibilities but was not likely to announce more permanent changes before the end of summer, according to a person who attended.
It was at least the third time Pichai had sidestepped questions at all-hands meetings about Google’s remote work plans in recent weeks, according to employees. Soon, though, the 48-year-old chief executive may need to more forcefully address how Google’s approach will match up to Facebook’s and Twitter’s. Both of those companies say they will allow more of their workforce to remain remote after the pandemic passes. A misstep by Pichai in handling one of the biggest management tests of 2020 could spur a backlash among Google’s historically vocal employees and make it harder to attract and retain new staff. Already, recruiters for rival Facebook have started to advertise its flexible work policy to job candidates.