When Nick Leeder was named the new head of Google Ireland, it was in the midst of a pandemic that had shut down the country. Less than two weeks before, then taoiseach Leo Varadkar had stood in front of the press in Washington and announced that schools and non-essential businesses would shut in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. Anyone who could work from home was urged to do so.
For tech companies, this seemed like the ideal moment to show what they had been telling people for years: that the idea that everyone needed to show up to work at the same place, and the same time every day was outdated.
Google had already begun working from home, after a suspected case of Covid-19 had caused it to shut its Dublin offices for what was supposed to be a temporary measure. More than six months later, Google