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Google OKs thousands of staff requests to transfer or work remotely

The company reportedly rejects applications from employees whose work requires certain equipment or face-to-face interactions with customers.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Google headquarters sprawls across a large campus in Mountain View, California.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google approved 85% of about 10,000 employee requests to work remotely or relocate when the search giant's offices fully reopen, the company said this week. The news comes after some workers criticized the company's remote work policies as "hypocritical."

Around 55% of the applications were for office transfers, while the remainder sought permission to work remotely, a Google spokesperson said. Employees who need to use particular equipment or interact with customers face-to-face had their applications rejected, according to Bloomberg, which earlier reported the news, citing an email to Google staff from the company's HR chief. 

Last week, Google pushed back its mandatory return to office date from September to Oct. 18 due to the global spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

Google's return-to-office policies have caused major tension among the tech giant's employees, who have complained the rules are applied unevenly. Last month, CNET reported that Urs Hölzle, one of Google's most senior and longest tenured executives, told employees he'd be working remotely from New Zealand. The announcement rankled lower-level workers because they said he had in the past been unsupportive or remote work.