Google is telling its North American staff to skip the trip to the office and work from home until at least April 10, citing concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
“Our goal is to reduce the density of people in offices, which expert advice suggests may slow down the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on the local community and health resources,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Prior to this change, New York and California were optional work from home and Washington was already recommended work from home.”
Google has more than 100,000 employees globally, the majority of which are based in the U.S. The company had previously made it optional for California and New York workers to come into the office, but is now telling its entire North America operation to work from home.
The virus has killed 28 people and spread to more than 950 in the U.S., with hotspots in California, Washington and much of the East Coast, according to John Hopkins University, which is actively tracking the information. Globally, COVID-19 has spread to more than 118,000 and killed nearly 4,260 people.
Last week, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai posted a letter on the company’s website highlighting several efforts the tech giant has made to products like Search, Maps and YouTube in light of coronavirus. Someone who searches for “coronavirus,” for instance, is greeted with a brightly-lit red bar providing the latest information on the illness from the World Health Organization. It's also running free ads on behalf of WHO.
Meanwhile, Twitter last week shut down its Seattle office, as the area has been significantly hit from the virus. Other tech companies such as Facebook and Amazon are offering employees the option to work from home, while also limiting travel. Agencies are also starting to get hit, as clients scale back advertising efforts due to marketplace uncertainty.