Skip to main content

Wildfire smoke prompts Google to issue work-from-home advisory

Google has told its employees in the northeast of the U.S. to work from home in order to limit their exposure to smoke drifting in from hundreds of wildfires in Canada.

Dramatic news images of New York City disappearing in a smoky haze on Wednesday showed the extent of the dire air quality as fires in eastern Canada continue to burn. Data later revealed that the air quality in the metropolis on Wednesday was the worst of any city globally.

“We are advising Googlers to work from home if possible, and limit their exposure to outdoor air,” Google said in an internal note seen by CNBC. “Terraces across our New York campus will remain closed today.”

The advisory notices were reportedly sent to workers in the Detroit area; Washington, D.C.; Reston, Virginia; Pittsburgh; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Employees in the Canadian cities of Toronto and Waterloo were also asked to work from home.

Since the pandemic, Google has allowed many of its staff to work remotely for up to two days a week, so it’s already set up for such scenarios.

And considering how Google has spent much of its existence building a burgeoning suite of cloud-based productivity tools, there can be few companies better placed to handle remote work.

The air quality in New York City is expected to improve slightly overnight but will likely worsen again on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The seriousness of the situation prompted New York City Mayor Eric Adams to recommend that the city’s inhabitants “limit outdoor activity to the greatest extent possible,” adding that those with preexisting respiratory problems, along with children and older adults, “should stay indoors at this time.”

Doug Ford, premier of Canada’s Ontario province, said on Wednesday that half of the forest fires in Ontario had been caused by lightning strikes while the rest were the result of human activity such as improperly extinguished campfires.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Twitter is letting some employees work from home forever

Twitter announced Tuesday, May 12, that it will allow some employees to continue working remotely — even after the coronavirus pandemic has ended.

"If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen," Twitter exec Jennifer Christie wrote in a blog post.

Read more
Google is tired of employees expensing their lunches while working from home
Work From Home Lunch

Despite extra money in its budget from events canceled due to the coronavirus, Google told its employees Wednesday that they cannot expense food for virtual Zoom meetings or give to charity using the surplus, according to a report by CNBC.

Google told workers in a companywide email last week that they could not continue to expense items like furniture, decorations, fitness equipment, gifts, and food while working from home. It also said the surplus of cash in unused travel and event funds could not be used to donate to charities of an employee's choosing.

Read more
To take on Zoom, Google Meet goes free for everyone
Google Meet

Google is making its professional video conferencing tool, Meet, free for all to take on Zoom and the growing number of other rivals from companies like Facebook. Google Meet has so far been limited to G Suite enterprise customers but soon, anybody with a Gmail account will be able to use it to talk to up to 100 participants.

Until September 30, Google says users can chat on Meet for as long as they’d like. After that, however, calls will be capped at 60 minutes unless you upgrade. You will still have access to premium features such as screen-sharing, a Zoom-like grid layout that Google rolled out a few days ago, real-time translation, and more.

Read more