Action #4 — Flexibility

We implemented new policies and practices to make hybrid work more inclusive and accessible.

Diversity Annual Report, 2022: Flexibility at Google

Our approach

In our return to office planning, we’re being mindful of the challenges ahead.

After over two years of working remotely, we recognize that the future of work is flexible—and that it’s our responsibility to make every workplace even more inclusive and accessible. Now that we’re moving closer to a hybrid working world, we know our policies and strategies can’t be one-size-fits-all. So this year, we took action to make all our offices inclusive, with new global guidance on best practices, office design experiments, and more.

In the workplace

We’ve created a return to office plan that centers on balance and well-being.

Google employees work in uniquely-shaped chairs. Each chair is blue and looks like a pod, with a short ladder leading up to it.

We’re experimenting with new ways to make the future of work inclusive and accessible.

Our return-to-office policies reflect what we’ve heard from Googlers about the things they love most about our workplace, and how they adapted to thrive while working from home. Googlers from underrepresented communities told us they appreciate having the flexibility to work from parts of the country that are more diverse and in communities where they feel most at home. Many also embraced fully remote work because it allowed them to balance extra caretaking responsibilities for young children or ailing family members.

So we’re moving to a hybrid work week. Most Googlers will now spend approximately three days in the office and two days wherever they work best—whether that’s at the office or at home. As part of our efforts, we launched a global campaign called “Room for All” to spread awareness that we, as Googlers, own our work culture and each individual has the power to make choices (big and small) that create a more inclusive environment. The campaign provides Googlers with helpful language and tools developed by our leadership and employee resource groups. We’re also offering more opportunities to transfer office locations or work 100% remotely. And we’re offering four “work from anywhere” weeks per year, to give everyone more flexibility, particularly around summer and holiday travel.

Spotlight work

Our workplace team is growing—with more focus on inclusion and accessibility.

Members of the disability Alliance at Google gather.

Members of our Disability Alliance employee resource group gather together.

Over the last few years, we’ve been working on creating spaces that are universally accessible and inclusive. At Google, we’re putting the theory of “universal design” into practice: By making spaces inclusive of people with disabilities, we’re making our environments more inclusive of everyone. Now, with a future built around hybrid working, we took steps to ensure the best possible experience when employees do come into an office.

Getting more feedback.

Our Accessibility and Inclusion team now collects feedback from employee groups that represent all kinds of Googlers, as part of our efforts to create an inclusive workplace. One outcome of this work is the inclusion of Wudu/ablution sinks in our Toronto and Waterloo offices in Canada. Wudu/ablution sinks are critical to the daily prayer practices of many Muslim communities.

“I am impressed with the constant and ubiquitous building accessibility improvements, resulting in a reliably inclusive PwD Googler experience. Over the last decade, I've seen this manifest deeply, to the point where it feels like part of the office's core physical culture to be barrier-free and inclusive.”

Sasha, a Googler in New York with a disability.

Spreading the work.

In 2021, the REWS Accessibility and Inclusion team also created Baseline Accessibility Global Guidance, the first-ever initiative focused on unifying accessibility design minimum expectations for future Google sites around the world.

We’re also in the early stages of developing a new room type called a “controlled sensory environment.” This room will allow someone to control their environmental stimuli like temperature, lighting, and noise level. This is a space all Googlers can benefit from, but it can provide critical relief for those who identify as neurodiverse.

In the world

Across the globe, we brought more flexibility to workplaces and classrooms.

We brought Google Workspace to everyone with a Google account for free. In doing this, we’re making it easier for people to collaborate on work projects, school projects, and everything in between—from advancing a cause, to planning a family reunion, or discussing this month’s book club pick.

Google Workspace apps like Google Meet allow people to collaborate more easily, whether it’s for work, school, or in life.

We also improved virtual and hybrid learning experiences for teachers and students. We launched more than 50 new education features for Google Classroom, Meet, and Cloud, helping make learning easier for students and teachers no matter where they are. We also launched a special version of Google Workspace, designed specifically for education. Google Workspace for Education brings all the Google tools and services used by teachers into one place, along with additional features to enhance teaching, stronger security, and more.

A woman with short hair and a V-Neck t-shirt looks at the camera.

“The open and inclusive culture is the most valuable experience I’ve cherished at Google over the years. It has taught me to be accepting of myself and others, which in turn has helped me grow into a better person.”

Parinita Das, a Googler in Hyderabad, India, reflects on what she appreciates most about Google. Parinita recently lost an upper-limb and now uses a bionic arm.