Google tells more than 100,000 North American employees to stay home amid coronavirus fears

Key Points
  • The company is recommending all North American employees work from home as it takes measures to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading.
  • Prior, the company gave employees at some offices the option to work from home and blocked visitors from coming into those offices.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Developers Conference in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google is telling all of its North American employees to stay home until at least April 10, as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads.

"All offices in North America are now on recommended work from home status, if roles allow," a Google spokesperson said in an email to CNBC. "Our goal is to reduce the density of people in offices, which expert advice suggests may slow down the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on the local community and health resources."

More than 100,000 Google employees are based in North America.

The latest restriction comes as the coronavirus breakout has killed more than 4,200 people and infected at least 118,000 people around the world. On Monday, CNBC reported that the company blocked all external visitors from coming into some of its offices, including New York and the San Francisco Bay Area where its Silicon Valley headquarters are located.

Last week, CNBC found internal emails from the company's chief executives, discussing the large-scale gravity of the coronavirus on its more than 300,000-person workforce as they outlined how Alphabet planned to prepare for worsening conditions.

"We know this is a very unsettling time for everyone," CEO Sundar Pichai said in an internal email, adding that the company has security and "resilience" teams running a 24-hour command center to help executives monitor the situation as it progresses.

Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat told employees in an e-mail that "every Google office is affected in some way."

"Given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 epidemic, everyone should be prepared to work from home unexpectedly," Porat wrote. "Take your laptop home every night."

In a tweet on Tuesday, Pichai urged Google employees to contribute "to social distancing if you are able to," in an effort to help minimize the spread of the virus and save the health-care system "for people in need."


Google also said on Tuesday that it's setting up a "COVID-19 fund" that will pay global temporary staff and vendors sick leave if they have potential symptoms of the virus or can't come to work due to quarantine. 

"We know it's an uncertain time and everyone is navigating a lot of ambiguity right now," Adrienne Crowther, the company's director of workplace services, wrote in a blog post. "As we all do so, we want to help everyone in our workforce prioritize their health and the health of our communities."

The fund will also cover the company's commitment to pay hourly service workers who are affected by reduced work schedules.

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