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Masked people walk past Google offices in New York City.

Google is among the companies to announce return-to-office plans, then delay them because of the spread of coronavirus variants. Spencer Platt via Getty Images

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It’s déjà vu all over again for Google employees. On Thursday, the tech giant told staff that it would be postponing its January office-reopening plan and the implementation of a hybrid work model.

That’s after Google postponed reopening plans this summer because of the coronavirus delta variant.

Now, with the omicron variant spreading, it’s kind of déjà vu for everybody. Some remote workers might be secretly rejoicing that they don’t have to schlep back to the office. Others — and the companies they work for — are getting tired of the delays.

No matter how much you love your partner, it’s tough to spend all day with her or him. So, members of remote-worker couples may be carving out time for themselves with a jog outdoors or a few hours with a book.

Or, if you’re Andy Diehl, a research analyst for the College of Western Idaho, “I actually picked up a job at Pizza Hut delivering pizza, so I had a reason to leave the house four hours a night, three days a week.”

He delivered pizzas not for the money, but to get some time alone. Diehl stopped moonlighting when the office reopened in June. He’s now hybrid, with three days a week in, two at home. And he loves it.

“The switching back and forth works for me. It also means every day is a little different,” Diehl said.

Sure, plenty of remote workers want to stay fully remote forever. But plenty also desperately want a hybrid arrangement or, at the very least, a clear plan from their boss, according to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School.

“The pingponging of office reopenings is going to have a huge impact on the morale of staff. Because one of the core human needs is a sense of control and predictability,” he said.

Galinsky cautions companies against overhyping reopening dates and said they should have a clear contingency plan if something goes awry.

CEOs should also prepare for a future of constant adaptation, said Johnny Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

“This isn’t going to be the last variant, and we had better as executives learn not to freak out every time there’s a new announcement,” he said.

Andy Diehl, the research analyst? He’s not freaking out about omicron yet. But if things shut down again, he’s always got Pizza Hut.

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