570 El Camino Real #150-449 Redwood City, CA. 94063

Here’s When (and How) the World’s Largest Tech Companies Plan To Return to the Office

Twitter plans to reopen its corporate offices March 15, but the company is letting employees decide whether to come back. (Getty Images)

Here’s When (and How) the World’s Largest Tech Companies Plan To Return to the Office
Silicon Valley Tech Giants Prepare To Welcome Employees Back After Prolonged Delays, New Flexible Work Models

The world’s largest tech companies are preparing to clear the cobwebs and welcome employees back to physical office space, sending an optimistic ripple across the battered real estate industry in anticipation of the return of some of its largest tenants.

Roughly two years after responding to the pandemic by being among the first to send employees home, tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple plan to begin ushering workers back to corporate hubs around the world as companies reevaluate when and how their workforces will use physical office space.

The returns cap a series of delays companies made in their initial office reopening plans, with concerns stemming from a variety of COVID-19 variants, case spikes, local restrictions and mandates, as well as employee worries, that kept the bulk of the vast office portfolios of tech companies unoccupied since the onset of the health crisis in early 2020.

“Two years. Two years is how long I’ve waited to send an email announcing all our offices are fully open again,” said Tracy Hawkins, Twitter’s vice president of work transformation, in a Twitter post about the social media company’s plan to reopen its corporate offices on March 15. “The pandemic is not over, [and] we’re committed to embracing choice in how we work, but this day feels good.”

But even with commuter buses ferrying Google employees down to the company’s Silicon Valley campus back on the road and massage services reinstated for Facebook employees, the rising popularity of hybrid and remote work has made it unclear just how many workers will show up once tech companies reopen their doors.

Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford Business School who researches remote work, found that most tech workers want a hybrid schedule that will allow them to work remotely for two to three days each week, a perk many tech companies have adopted over the past two years in response to feedback and the need to compete for future talent. Bloom said he has been tracking how many days companies are willing to let their employees work from home each week, and since 2020, that figure has been “creeping up.”

“The number of person-days in the office is never going back to pre-pandemic average, ever,” Bloom said, adding that over the next decade, employees across the country will spend at least 25% of their workweek operating remotely, a figure roughly 20% higher than before the health crisis.

Pandemic’s Lasting Effect

In the Bay Area — one of the world’s most concentrated tech hubs and home to the nation’s two priciest office markets in San Jose and San Francisco — the regional economic council reported the impact of remote work will play a lasting role in the region’s economies. As much as 45% of the Bay Area’s workforce has jobs that can be fulfilled remotely, and planners and policymakers across the region are looking for ways to capture the potential environmental benefits of remote work while limiting its unintended consequences.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed collected commitments from some of the city’s largest tenants, many of which are in the tech industry, to reopen offices and spur an economic recovery that has lagged other leading office markets in the United States. Barely 25% of San Francisco’s pre-pandemic office workforce has made it back to physical spaces, according to data compiled by security management firm Kastle Systems, which tracks keycard swipes. By comparison, the office markets in Houston and Austin, Texas, reported daily occupancy rates exceeding 50% of their pre-crisis levels, and the average among the nation’s 10 largest office markets is nearing 40%.

According to CoStar data, the nation’s office market is showing signs of improvement but still has a way to go before it returns to pre-pandemic levels. Leasing volume in the second half of 2021 was about 100 million square feet each for the third and fourth quarters, a healthy boost compared to activity reported in 2020 but still well below the quarterly average of about 115 million square feet the sector reported between 2015 and 2019.

While employees may take a while to dust off their pre-pandemic routines, tech companies have become increasingly eager to fill all of the new space they acquired over the past couple of years as they return to physical spaces.

“One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that the benefits of in-person collaboration and camaraderie cannot be replaced,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “While we have not yet mandated in-person work, more and more colleagues have been returning voluntarily to our Mission Bay offices recently, and it has been reinvigorating to be with them in person again. Alongside other company leaders, I have been working regularly from the office each week, and will be encouraging my team to do so. While we’ve made things work virtually the last two years, better days are ahead for the Bay Area.”

Here’s when, how and where global tech companies are planning returns to physical office space:


Headquarters: San Francisco
Return-to-office date: March 15
Offices affected: All corporate offices around the world
Flexible work accommodations: Employees will have the option to work remotely for as long as they choose, a decision the company made in May 2020 that will allow any worker to work from home indefinitely. The company closed all of its offices and halted business travel about two years ago.


Headquarters: Cupertino, California
Return-to-office date: April 11
Offices affected: All corporate offices around the world
Flexible work accommodations: The iPhone maker, which has been one of the most vocal in its commitment to in-person operations, plans to gradually welcome workers back by mandating they come into the office at least one day per week starting April 11. After a three-week period, employees will have to go in for a minimum of two days a week, and by May 23 all will be required to come in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Headquarters: Mountain View, California
Return-to-office date: April 4
Offices affected: All corporate offices around the world
Flexible work accommodations: Google adopted a hybrid work model in which employees will be expected to be in the office for at least three days each week. The company has already reinstated perks such as unscheduled gym access, massage services, game and music rooms, as well as more on-campus food options. Even so, only a fraction of the search engine giant’s workforce has voluntarily made it back to the office. The company said less than one-third of its Bay Area employees were back in offices at the end of February, a figure Google expects will jump quickly upon its mandated return date.

“We’ve long believed in the power that comes from having people come together in person to build community, drive innovation, support creativity and solve complex problems [and] it’s why our campus will play an important role in supporting a flexible hybrid future,” Dave Graham, head of Google’s San Francisco office, said in a statement. “Many of our employees in San Francisco have already been coming into the office voluntarily to work and connect with colleagues, and we’re excited that our local Google community will grow even more vibrant as we soon embark on our new hybrid work week journey in the city.”


Headquarters: San Francisco
Return-to-office date: May 2021
Offices affected: All corporate offices around the world
Flexible work accommodations: Salesforce was one of the first tech companies to reopen its offices around the world, and while its in-person occupancy rates are still well below pre-pandemic levels, the company is still bullish on its physical workspaces and is re-imagining how they fit into its future operations. It recently unveiled plans to open new towers in Chicago, Dublin, Sydney and Tokyo over the next two years, even though it gives employees and their managers the power to decide how often they make it into the office each week. Salesforce signed a multiyear booking agreement last month for Trailhead Ranch, a 75-acre retreat in Scotts Valley, California, that the company plans to use as a work and wellness hub to onboard new hires and conduct off-site team meetings. For its existing offices, Salesforce is reconfiguring floor plans to increase its meeting and collaboration space. Prior to the pandemic, about 40% of its office space was set aside for spaces including conference rooms, lounge hubs and collaborative workstations, a breakdown that will now jump to 60% to accommodate employees who are heading into the office for meetings, team-building and face-to-face work.

“Digital first does not mean digital only,” Steve Brashear, Salesforce’s senior vice president of global real estate, wrote in a company blog post. “Our physical spaces are critical to collaboration, innovation, and connection. While our employees resoundingly enjoy the flexibility our new approach offers, their number one request is to get together in person with their teams. That’s why we’re investing in our global campus and reimagining our spaces as a destination for collaborating and connecting.”


Headquarters: Redmond, Washington
Return-to-office date: Feb. 28
Offices affected: Corporate hubs in Washington state and the Bay Area
Flexible work accommodations: After telling employees they wouldn’t be asked to return until COVID-19 was no longer “a significant burden,” Microsoft finally began having them come back to offices late last month. The company gave its workers a 30-day period starting Feb. 28 to transition back to in-person work routines, and its hybrid work model will allow them to request changes to their work site, location or hours even while offices reopen.

“Throughout the pandemic, our employees have adapted to many new ways of working while helping our customers and partners navigate their own challenges,” Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, wrote in a company blog post. “We know there’s not a singular solution to how people work best, which is why we believe flexibility should be at the forefront of our evolving hybrid workplace.”


Headquarters: Menlo Park, California
Return-to-office date: March 28
Offices affected: Corporate offices in the U.S.
Flexible work accommodations: After a series of delays caused by the omicron variant, employees of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, are expected to return to the office by late March. Workers can request to work remotely full time or extend their remote work period for an additional three to five months through the company’s office deferral program.

“We’re focused on making sure our employees continue to have choices about where they work given the current COVID-19 landscape,” Janelle Gale, Meta’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement. “We understand that the continued uncertainty makes this a difficult time to make decisions about where to work, so we’re giving more time to choose what works best for them.”

The social media giant had originally planned to bring employees back to the office on Jan. 31.


Headquarters: San Francisco
Return-to-office date: Capacity-restricted openings since March 2021
Offices affected: Corporate offices in the U.S.
Flexible work accommodations: Uber has allowed employees to return to its offices across the country on a voluntary basis and hasn’t mandated a specific date that requires their return. In mid-2021 the company said it would adopt a hybrid policy that granted workers more flexibility on their preferred office location as well as the chance to spend at least 50% of their time at a designated office rather than a minimum of three in-person days a week.

“While we still believe in the value of in-person collaboration and the community that builds, we also value our employees having the choice to decide where they want to work while they’re not in the office,” Uber Chief People Officer Nikki Krishnamurthy wrote in a company blog post. “So if they’re spending half their time in the office, they can spend the other half wherever — working from home, working from a relative’s home around the holidays, or taking a trip and extending their time there to work remotely.”

Full article by Katie Burke: https://www.costar.com/article/255946912/heres-when-and-how-the-worlds-largest-tech-companies-plan-to-return-to-the-office