Alphabet was one of the first companies to mandate remote work back in March and is continually pushing back office reopening. As a free benefit, Google is now letting employees request weekly, home COVID-19 tests.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google rolled out the new employee perk on Thursday. Demand was so great that the external site to get a test crashed shortly after going live.
Within four days of requesting, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kit from BioIQ will arrive. After completing the nasal swab, mailing off, and a lab receiving, it will take up to two days for results to be returned.
The WSJ says Google will pay $50 for each test, which means that it costs the company $4.5 million per week assuming all 90,000 stateside employees take advantage. A similar program for Googlers around the world will be made available next year, with Google telling The Verge that interns, which will remain virtual next year, are also eligible.
Google’s COVID-19 testing program is unique for covering all employees, including those working from home. Today’s report notes how other, non-tech companies are only offering to those “on-site.” According to Google, this widespread availability is meant to help find those that have COVID-19 but do not present symptoms, thus further limiting spread.
Google is recommending that employees take advantage of weekly testing. It’s also available to those working at other Alphabet divisions.
Meanwhile, CEO Sundar Pichai told employees on Sunday that office reopening are now planned for September 2021. Upon return, Google will be trialing a “flexible” approach where employees must be in the office for three days to help collaboration. The other two can be spent working remotely. Additionally, Google in mid-to-late 2021 will explore how it can distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to employees.