Google brought employees back into the office after two years of remote work last week, and the occasion was met with everything from marching bands to visits from prominent politicians as well as increased traffic.
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited Google’s Chicago offices, which house roughly 2,000 employees, according to ABC7 Chicago news. Rob Biederman, Google director of government relations, also made an appearance, as cupcakes were served.
“It’s fun to be able to meet the people I’ve been working (with) outside of Zoom,” Google software engineer Jon George told ABC 7 Chicago news. “I guess we use Google chat,” he added, referring to Google’s video conferencing platform.
The festivities come after the company mandated office returns for most employees for at least three days a week starting the week of April 4. Although it is a “hybrid” work model and employees may apply for exemptions, company leadership faced pushback from employees, who cited the company’s outstanding performance during the two years of remote work, inflationary costs with commutes, and the flexibility and family time they got used to while working from home.
One employee posted a video of a marching band at Google’s office in Austin, Texas, performing to a mostly empty room.
Google’s San Francisco offices included employees at building entrances to help direct employees to their offices and answer questions.
Google employees and Bay Area residents also reported increased traffic in the region, especially near Google’s Mountain View and Sunnyvale, CA offices.
“Crazy traffic going into Google offices as we go back to work,” one employee tweeted Tuesday with a photo of busy intersection near its Mountain View headquarters. “No parking anywhere close to the building I work in.”
The San Francisco Bay Area has the highest concentration of Google offices, with dozens of buildings across several cities in the region, including its Mountain View headquarters.
“On weekdays, we’re at about 20% of our pre-pandemic ridership numbers at the moment, but as offices keep opening up and as there’s more summer activities, and spring and summer activities going on, we expect those numbers to continue to rise,” Caltrain spokesperson Dan Lieberman told ABC 7 Bay Area.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.