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As COVID-19 surges, Lyft will let employees work remotely for all of 2022

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Lyft said Thursday that its employees can work remotely for all of 2022, as a number of major employers delay their plans for employees to return to the office amid a spike in COVID-19 cases around the U.S. The rideshare company had previously planned on summoning workers back by February.  

With the Omicron variant beginning to spread around the country, companies including Facebook, Ford Motor Co. and Google also have pushed back their office return dates. In announcing its plans, however, Lyft said the change mostly reflects workers' desire for flexibility rather than virus fears. 

"We've heard from our team members that they value continued flexibility in determining where they work and would benefit from additional time to plan. We want to give people a choice for all of next year," a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement. "Offices will fully reopen as planned in February, but working from the office will be completely optional for all of 2022."

The spokesperson added that Lyft will not be going fully remote for the long-term, but that it will continue to prioritize employees' work preferences. 

Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, earlier this week announced changes to the company's return plans. Employees, who had previously been set to come back to the office early next year, may now continue to work from home until the pandemic eases.

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Under the arrangement, Meta employees who are ready to return to offices may do so on January 31, while those who aren't may continue working from home for an additional three to five months, a Meta spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"For those wishing to return in January, we look forward to providing a vibrant office experience that continues to prioritize health and safety. We also recognize that some aren't quite ready to come back," said Janelle Gale, Meta's vice president of human resources. 

Gale said Meta is allowing U.S. and Canada-based employees who are hesitant to return to choose where they work, at least on a temporary basis. Meta employs roughly 50,000 people worldwide. 

Since May 2020, Meta employees, including those who work for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, have had the option to request full-time remote work. The company has also said it will adjust salaries for full-time remote workers who relocate to lower cost regions.

The technology giant's softened stance on bringing workers back to the offices in January comes as public health officials express concern over Omicron variant, which studies show can evade vaccines.

"Right now there is unpredictability with returning to the office because there are key features of this variant that we don't have information on," said Keri Althoff, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health. "Once we have that information we can adapt to it and have a better plan for the return to office. I don't think this is a situation where we feel like we're never going to have a return to office date."

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