SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- As the COVID omicron surge begins to wane, tech industry shuttle buses have returned, at least in a reduced capacity, after having largely disappeared during most of the pandemic.
However, many of the tech companies which fueled the tech shuttle phenomena in the first place have hit the brakes on their long-term plans to return to the office in person.
"Before the pandemic, people thought that work had to take place in an office," said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock. "After the pandemic, we were forced to work from home. The future is going to be a combination of both."
Several tech bellwethers have scuttled plans to return to the office in the immediate future. Google had planned a January return; Apple was eyeing the month of February. Both tech giants have canceled those plans indefinitely.
Facebook parent company Meta is still planning a March return to its campuses.
UCSF Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says the emergence of new highly contagious variants has made it difficult to map a course through the pandemic.
"We're all been humbled by COVID so many times," said Chin-Hong.
However, he predicted that eventually, COVID-19 will become more manageable and less disruptive like the common cold or flu.
"I predict that there will be enough population-level immunity from a combination of vaccines, boosting and natural infections that it will act like a huge force field in the area and it will keep cases low," he said.
Hancock says work-from-home options aren't going anywhere -- much like the virus that inspired them. He believes companies will adopt a mixed approach with employees working both remotely and in the office.
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