The threat of the new coronavirus is making working from home a more and more popular option for tech companies, and yesterday Google expanded its work-from-home recommendation to all North American employees. In a memo obtained by CNN, Google’s vice president of global security, Chris Rackow, said, “Out of an abundance of caution, and for the protection of Alphabet and the broader community, we now recommend you work from home if your role allows.”
For now, Google’s work-from-home recommendation extends through April 10, with the company saying it is “carefully monitoring the situation and will update the timeline as necessary.” Alphabet, Google’s parent company, employs around 120,000 people, and as a US-based company, the majority of those employees are based in North America.
The new coronavirus has led to the cancellation of most of this year’s large trade show gatherings. Mobile World Congress, which was scheduled for February, was canceled at the last minute. Google killed Google I/O 2020 just last week, Facebook shut down F8, and E3 was canceled yesterday. Big gatherings present a higher risk for spreading the virus, and along the same lines of thinking, going to work at your big tech campus is also a vector for infection.
In a blog post yesterday, Google said it is “establishing a COVID-19 fund that will enable all our temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined. Working with our partners, this fund will mean that members of our extended workforce will be compensated for their normal working hours if they can’t come into work for these reasons.”