Recently, Google announced that it is extending its remote work arrangements until at least next summer. Some other companies have already indicated that many of their employees can permanently work from home. As other organizations consider the same in the name of safety during the uncertainty of the pandemic, they've got to make sure they're putting their employees in the position to succeed in a remote environment, and this can't happen at a wide scale without a focus on accessibility.
It was one thing when companies had to pivot almost instantly and without notice to employing a remote work force. The accessibility of electronic systems and information didn't receive the attention and planning it should have in the first roll-out, but this was new and jarring, and it's possible that many people had higher tolerance and expanded patience. However, with the calculated commitment to extend work-from-home arrangements for a long time, or forever, employees should expect an equal commitment to accessibility.
"To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we'll be extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don't need to be in the office," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo to employees, as reported by CNN. "I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months."
Another CNN article last week identified 10 companies that announced employees don't have to be onsite until at least 2021 and six that "told their employees that they don't ever have to come back to the office."
The companies listed as working from home until 2021 or beyond include: Google, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, Amazon corporate, Viacom, Scotiabank, RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), Group Nine Media, and Indeed.
The companies listed as working from home forever include: Facebook, Twitter, Square, Slack, Shopify, and Zillow.
Several of these are large tech companies that will be especially interesting to watch, as they could produce some innovate solutions to remote work inclusion. Additionally, smaller companies sometimes recreate the trends set by the larger, well-known firms. If the tech giants really commit to accessibility for their employees and drive the labor market decisively in that direction, that could ripple more broadly and the next few years could positively change the workplace, wherever that may be, for the better.