MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX) -- Hundreds of Bay Area Google employees headed back to work on Monday, two months ahead of the company's full reopening.
Google is the latest of the tech giants in the Bay Area to slowly start phasing employees back into the office on Monday, offering a glimpse of post-Covid work life balance.
Mike Mozer, a research scientist at the company, described the return to the office after 16 months away as "spookily normal".
"It's sort of this bizarro, like you fall right back into the routine. There's nothing really that unusual about it," said Mozer.
Google will not require masks indoors if employees are vaccinated and provide verification. Workers who are not vaccinated must wear a mask indoors, and submit to weekly Covid tests. The buildings will not have capacity limits or social distancing rules.
In a blog post in May, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company will begin moving toward a hybrid schedule, with 60% of employees working three days a week by September. Another 20% will be working in new office locations, and the remaining 20% will work from home.
Pichai also announced a new "work from anywhere" option, available for up to four weeks out of the year. The new offering is meant to provide employees with more flexibility during summer break and holidays.
Engineer Qian Chang is looking forward to workplace perks, like free food.
"I don't need to cook on my own, everyday now," said Chang.
The news of Google employees beginning to return to Mountain View was met with smiles at the Sports Page Bar and Grill. The business survived the pandemic largely due to its expansive outdoor patio that was able to accommodate guests through much of the lockdown, according to co-owner Jacqueline Graham. Sports Page retained all its employees, and will begin hiring when Google employees begin returning to the office en masse.
"Of course it's a good sign for all the local businesses here in Mountain View," said Graham. "I think life is getting back to normal. I think people want to be out and about, again."
Mozer, the research scientist, will be coming in five days per week.
"Even though I don't have to. It's good energy to be here, lots of people to talk to," said Mozer.
for more features.