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In leaked memo, Google CEO Sundar Pichai cited the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ of 2020 in telling employees they’ll get more time off to ‘disconnect’ and curb burnout | Markets Insider

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  • Google is giving employees more days off and a no-meeting week over the holiday period.
  • It’s the latest move by leadership to help curb burnout among Googlers, who will be working at home until at least mid-2021.
  • In a memo to employees, obtained by Business Insider, CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged the “extraordinary circumstances” of 2020.
  • Are you a Google insider with insight to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-628-228-1836) or encrypted email (hslangley@protonmail.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.
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  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As Googlers continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is finding ways to curtail employee burnout. 

This week, Google told employees that they will get two more days off and a “no meetings” week through the holiday period, according to a memo by CEO Sundar Pichai sent Wednesday and obtained by Business Insider.

In the note, Pichai acknowledged the “extraordinary circumstances” of 2020.

“I appreciate all of the ways you’ve been helpful to our users, customers, partners, and communities during this time – and I want to make sure you’re also taking time for yourselves,” wrote the CEO.

Googlers will get December 18 and January 4 as days off, and the company will implement a “no meetings” week from December 28 to January 1.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the contents of the memo and said the company was providing ways for employees to “reset and recharge,” which includes access to counseling and mental health resources.

However, the days off only apply to full-time employees and interns, and don’t apply to Google’s large workforce of temps, vendors and contractors, who often miss out on standard company benefits.

With employees working remotely, Google has increased the number of holidays and no-meeting days this year. Employees were given an additional day off ahead of Labor Day for “collective wellbeing,” while no-meeting Fridays have become a more common occurrence in recent months, insiders say.

In the memo sent this week, Pichai encouraged Googlers to “take the time you need to take care of yourself and your loved ones,” pointing employees to some of the company’s internal resources.

Googlers have been told they will be working from home until the summer of 2021. The future beyond that is less clear, but Pichai has raised the possibility of a “hybrid” work situation where employees will only work in offices some days of the week.

Employees have started pressuring the CEO for more clarity on what this will look like. In a recent all-hands, Pichai said he still sees the majority of Googlers being tied to a physical office in the future and  living “within some reasonable distance” of it, according to leaked audio of the discussion obtained by Business Insider.

Meanwhile, despite a brief nod to a tough year in this week’s memo, Pichai has not yet addressed the results of the US election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged Biden’s projected victory during an all-hands with employees this week, although he hasn’t made any public-facing statements. 

Here’s Pichai’s memo in full:

Hi Googlers,

We’re entering the homestretch of 2020 and have already done a lot to be proud of, often against extraordinary circumstances. I appreciate all of the ways you’ve been helpful to our users, customers, partners, and communities during this time – and I want to make sure you’re also taking time for yourselves.

The two global days off we had earlier this year worked well to help everyone rest and recharge. So we’re scheduling two more to help you disconnect around the New Year. The first will be on Friday, December 18, 2020 and the second on Monday, January 4, 2021. We recognize that these dates won’t work for all teams due to business priorities and will fall on non-working days for some Googlers — in those cases, People Operations are working with your leaders on alternative arrangements. You can find more details in the FAQs.

Some of our teams have also held “no meetings weeks,” which create space for Googlers to either focus on independent work, or make it easier to switch off entirely and take a vacation. We’ve decided to make December 28, 2020 to January 1, 2021 an official no meetings week across the company. Of course, there will be exceptions for teams that are working to hit hard deadlines, closing deals, or supporting critical infrastructure (please watch for guidance from your leadership). Otherwise, let’s move or cancel all routine and non-critical meetings that week.

Beyond these moments, please continue to take the time you need to take care of yourself and your loved ones. If you want some help with that, our new Helpful@Home site created by People Operations, REWS and CorpEnd is a good place to start.

– Sundar

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