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Omicron disrupts return-to-office plans across the world

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Google is among the companies who have pushed back reopening plans. Meta and Apple are sticking to their schedules as of now. In India, Vedanta and others are on wait-and- watch mode.

Omicron disrupts return-to-office plans across the world
Corporates across the globe may have to push back their plans to reopen offices amid concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19. As scientists weigh the impact of the variant, companies have taken a wait-and-watch approach on their return-to-office plans even as tech giant Google announced an indefinite delay in its reopening plans around the world.
Google, which had asked its employees to return to the office from January 10, has extended its work-from-home (WFH) period. Unlike previous announcements, Google did not set a new return date for employees. The company will decide after the New Year when to end its hybrid work phase based on local conditions, a spokesperson told CBS. According to CNBC, nearly 40 percent of the staff in its US offices have reported on-site in the recent weeks.
Most companies in the US, which had targeted a September reopening, have moved dates to 2022. Virginia-based banking company Capital One was hoping to bring back employees to the office by November 2. The bank has not confirmed a new date for employees to return to their physical desks.
Even before the first Omicron variant was detected, tech giant Apple Inc had announced that its employees would be required to return in a hybrid phase from February instead of January.
However, some companies like Meta Platforms, owner of Facebook, still hope to reopen in January. “We’re currently monitoring the situation closely and our return-to-office plans for January 2022 remain,” a Meta spokesman said Nov 29.
In India, the Vedanta Group had planned to fully reopen by January and February. “We are watching the situation, if things get bad, we may put a hold on those plans,” Chief Human Resource Officer Madhu Srivastava told The Economic Times. At present, the corporate office of Vedanta stipulates 50 percent attendance.
According to Nucleus Software, it had planned to open offices soon as many associates had complained of fatigue due to WFH. “But the sudden entry of a new variant has forced us to put our plans at bay for the time being,” Chief People Officer Prema Rajaraman told ET.
Companies like Panasonic India have paused international trips after the Omicron was reported. While strengthening COVID-19 protocols in warehouses and stores, online grocery retailer BigBasket said it may revisit its plan of bringing back 25 percent of employees to its corporate office from January 1.
Safety of employees is the top priority for corporates. “The health and safety of our associates is our top priority whether they are working from home or the office,” Shantanu Jha, Senior Vice-President at Cognizant India, told the newspaper.
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