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.