Silicon Valley companies in no rush to open offices despite easing of virus ban

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Several of the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest tech companies, including Twitter Inc and Google, plan to keep their offices largely closed for more months despite the government allowing them on Tuesday open with a limited capacity.

FILE PHOTO: A sign shows a Google office near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, USA, May 8, 2019. REUTERS / Paresh Dave

With declining coronavirus infections in mind, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties softened guidelines that had kept most office buildings closed for the past year except for crucial security and support personnel.

Starting Wednesday, companies can open their offices up to a quarter of their capacity.

“San Francisco is going to come alive,” Mayor London Breed told reporters. “When we start to reopen, more and more people will want to go back to work and want to be around other people.”

But Silicon Valley companies that pledged last year to allow workers to stay home until this summer or indefinitely said they were meeting their deadlines.

They cited their own analyzes of public health data, other safety considerations, and worker preferences. The adoption of vaccines, which in California are accessible only to the most vulnerable populations, is also a factor, but a minor one.

Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc and file storage service Dropbox Inc said its mandatory work-from-home policies would remain in effect until June, while Box Inc said its reopening is still scheduled for September.

Pinterest Inc does not anticipate a significant reopening until at least August, Alphabet Inc’s Google until September and DocuSign Inc not before October.

Twitter, Adobe Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc, Twilio Inc, Yelp Inc and Zoom Video Communications Inc will also remain closed despite what Breed and other local government officials described as a move to the “orange level” from the “red level” of the California lockdown. restrictions.

Breed spokesman Jeff Cretan said San Francisco officials hope small and medium-sized businesses will be the first to return.


Among the few companies aiming to take advantage of the easing are SAP SE, which said it is seriously considering partially reopening its offices in the Bay Area within weeks, and Slack Technologies, which is mulling a date to invite some workers.

Fast, the San Francisco e-commerce software startup, will open its doors, and windows for security, up to 25% of its 56 Bay Area employees on Wednesday, spokesman Jason Alderman said. He said the company hopes to start receiving job applications from people forced to work remotely by their current employers.

“Companies like Fast, which allow people to come into the office if they want to, will be a hiring advantage,” he said.

A survey late last year of 9,000 knowledge workers commissioned by workplace chat software company Slack found that 20% want to work remotely, 17% in the office, and 63% a combination. from both.

Facebook Inc, whose offices will be closed around the world through July 2, said this month that it will open 10% of the seats in Seattle-area offices to help workers struggling at home. He had no similar news to share about his San Francisco offices.

Microsoft Corp, which announced plans Monday to partially reopen its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, next week, did not immediately comment on the San Francisco locations.

IBM declined to discuss the Bay Area plans. But several top executives at its New York headquarters have started working from their offices with doors closed.

Report by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Edited by Muralikumar Anantharaman


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