March 16th, 2020
During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, many companies are closing their offices and directing their employees to work from home (WFH), schools are moving to online classes and people are quickly adopting social distancing measures. Our priority is to take care of people who work in our offices—including employees, vendors, and temporary staff—and the communities they work in. So we’ve been taking action to reduce the need for people to come into our offices, particularly in locations where local COVID-19 conditions merit increased precaution.
At the same time, we know that people rely on Google’s products and services, so a limited proportion of employees, temporary staff and vendors continue to work in our offices because some important jobs can only be done onsite—like those who need to access the most sensitive content or account data for user and customer safety and security. (For example, the people who help you if your account gets hacked.)
Here’s how we’re reducing the need for people to come into our offices while ensuring that our products continue to operate under these unique circumstances.
In most parts of the world, we’ve recommended that everyone who can work from home should do so. We’re also increasing the ability for employees, temporary staff and vendors to work from home by rolling out remote access and equipment, like secure laptops, where feasible. We’re working closely with our partners to provide the right equipment and guidance as fast as possible.
To reduce the need for support staff to come into the office, where possible we’re prioritizing support work that is critical—like account recovery, security, and certain advertising-related reviews (such as preventing COVID-19 scams, or inappropriate ad placements).
We’ve always used a combination of humans and machines to review content on our platforms, like YouTube. We will temporarily be increasing our reliance on automated systems given this unique situation, to reduce the need for people to come into the office. Our goal is to continue to act quickly to remove content that violates our community guidelines and policies.
To promote social distancing and reduce the number of people in the office at a given time, in some locations, we’ll change the timing of shifts, the timing between shifts, and the number of people on a given shift based on the work required.
Temporary implications for support times
We know that right now, people around the world need information, communication, and computation more than ever. We’re deeply committed to helping. All our products remain fully operational. The changes we’re making to our operations won’t impact their availability.
However, given the steps we need to take due to these unprecedented times, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support in some cases:
- Some users, advertisers, developers, and publishers may experience delays in some support response times for non-critical services, which will now be supported primarily through our chat, email, and self-service channels.
- Our goal on YouTube is to ensure we are removing content that violates our policies. We’ve invested significantly in automated systems for content review but they are not always as accurate or granular in their analysis of content as human reviewers. These systems are configured deliberately to identify content that may violate our policies. So on YouTube, there may be an increase in content classified for removal during this time—including some content that does not violate our policies. Turnaround times for appeals against these decisions may be slower. You can read more on the YouTube blog.
- For other Google products, our automated systems may not always accurately classify content for removal, and human review of these decisions may be slower.
We will provide updates if there are additional delays in support over time.
Covering our workforce
As we temporarily reduce the need for people to come into the office, we’ve committed that during this time, members of our extended workforce who are affected by reduced schedules will be compensated for the time they would have worked. We also established a COVID-19 fund so that members of our extended workforce who would not otherwise be paid will be compensated for their normal working hours if they can’t come into work because they have potential symptoms of COVID-19 or if they’re quarantined. For those coming to the office, we have significantly enhanced our hygiene and cleaning operations, are increasing the spacing between people, and in some locations have instituted temperature checks.
We thank you for your support and understanding during this challenging period, and we think this is the right thing to do for the people who work here, and the community at large.