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Meta will let workers return to the office as late as June

Staff can defer their return to work if late January feels too soon.
Visitors pose in front of a newly unveiled logo for "Meta", the new name for Facebook's parent company, outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on October 28, 2021. - Facebook changed its parent company name to "Meta" on October 28 as the tech giant tries to move past being a scandal-plagued social network to its virtual reality vision for the future. (Photo by NOAH BERGER / AFP) (Photo by NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|December 8, 2021 9:10 AM

Meta now has a more firm timeframe for a full return to the office, but it's also giving workers a chance to stay at home for a while longer. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, the Facebook parent company said US offices would fully reopen at the end of January 2022, but that an "office deferral program" will let staff in the US and Canada delay that return for three to five months. They can return as late as June if they aren't yet comfortable with in-person work, but don't want to commit to a long-term remote position.

Human resources VP Janelle Gale said Meta would still "prioritize health and safety" at offices for the employees who come back in January. However, the social media firm also accepted that others "aren't quite ready" to appear.

The move came just days after Google further delayed its return-to-office plans, and at the same time as Lyft said it would no longer require a return in February. An increase in COVID-19 cases and uncertainty about the Omicron variant has cast doubt on the safety of requiring every in-office worker to return, even if there are strict mask and vaccination requirements. Simply put, it might be a long while before companies can demand office work without facing significant resistance.

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Meta will let workers return to the office as late as June