Google has instructed its East Coast employees to stay home due to poor air quality caused by wildfires that have enveloped New York and other major cities. Citing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Google's site leads in the area issued a memo advising workers to work remotely and minimize exposure to outdoor air.
The company has taken similar measures in Detroit, Washington, D.C., Reston, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Toronto, and Waterloo, as smoke from Canada's devastating wildfires spreads across regions. This is not the first time Google has dealt with such a situation, having faced hazardous air quality in California during the record-setting wildfires of 2020.
Unhealthy Air Quality Prompts Work from Home Directive
In response to air quality reports labeling many parts of the East Coast as "unhealthy," Google has advised its East Coast employees, particularly those in New York, to work from home whenever possible. Employees were informed that terraces across the New York campus would remain closed, and they should limit their exposure to outdoor air.
The company also issued advisory notices to employees in various cities affected by the deteriorating air quality, including Detroit, Washington, D.C., Reston, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Toronto, and Waterloo.
Recalling California's Wildfire Challenges
Google's decision to implement remote work protocols stems from past experiences in California, where the company is headquartered. In 2020, the state faced severe air quality issues caused by extensive wildfires.
These record-setting wildfires, combined with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, led many people, including Google employees, to work from home. The company had previously established a "go" link to provide internal resources and information about wildfires and air filtering during the 2020 wildfires.
Protective Measures for Employees
The memo issued by Google encouraged employees to stay indoors, avoid vigorous physical activity, and ensure their air conditioners were running with clean filters. Site leads reassured employees already working on-site that the campuses' HVAC and air-filtration systems maintain high-quality indoor air, even during these challenging circumstances.