Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a developers conference.
REUTERS/Stephen Lam
  • Google is pushing its return to office plan to October 18, it told employees on Wednesday.
  • The company had previously told employees they would be expected back in September.
  • Employees who do return will need to be vaccinated, the company said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Google is delaying its return to office in response to a surge of coronavirus cases, the company announced on Wednesday.

Employees were told they can continue to work from home through October 18, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo, which was obtained by Insider. He also announced that employees who return to offices will need to be vaccinated against the virus.

Google recently reopened some of its offices for employees to return on a voluntary basis, but said employees would not be required back until September. However, a rise of coronavirus cases led by the more contagious Delta variant has now pushed back that deadline by more than a month.

The company has more than 140,000 full time employees, according to a recent regulatory filing.

"We are excited that we've started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so," Pichai wrote in the memo, which was later published on the company's blog.

"At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it."

Google is the only tech giant so far to explicitly mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. CNBC tech reporter Josh Lipton said in a tweet that Apple CEO Tim Cook was still unsure whether imposing the same rule at Apple was "the right answer."

Apple also pushed its return-to-office date back to October in response to the surge of cases, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Pichai, the Google CEO, said the requirement for vaccinations would apply to US offices "in the coming weeks" and other regions "in the coming months."

When employees do go back, Google has said it will increase flexibility around remote work, after employees pushed back on the company's demand to have all employees back in offices.

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