Organizations around the world have embraced remote or hybrid work with varying degrees of adoption. Some are beginning to bring their employees back to the office in full, some are doing so in phases until the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, and others like Google are offering a more hybrid approach.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, plans to be more flexible with the company’s workers and offer a mix of remote and in-office work. Google is letting employees work from home until at least next July.
At the time, Google was the first major U.S. company to announce such a sweeping move while many other major firms have set the new year as a temporary deadline.
Pichai, in an interview with Time to honor him as one of the world’s most influential people, spoke about Google’s view on workplace culture and flexibility.
According to Pichai, Google was one of the first companies to take a different approach to the workplace that focuses on reducing friction and building community. The COVID-19 pandemic has made him realize that Google and other companies should do even more to foster collaborative and happy workplaces. For example, employees with long commutes should have more options rather than driving two hours to work each day.
“I think we can do better,” he said.
“It forces us to embrace (flexibility and remote work) and think hard about the kind of work environment and tools we need and how we can get people to collaborate,” Pichai said.
However, Pichai said he doesn’t see 100% remote work in the future after the pandemic has ceased. Instead, Google is reconfiguring office spaces for that eventual return sometime next year because the company values that sense of community that comes from in-person collaboration.
“I see the future as definitely being more flexible,” Pichai said. “We firmly believe in being together, and having that sense of community is super important. … I don’t think the future is 100% remote or something. We value our offices and we value our culture, but I do think we need to create more flexibility and hybrid models.”