Google parent Alphabet Inc. is slowing hiring for the remainder of the year, the most drastic action by the web search giant since the COVID-19 pandemic began battering its advertising business several weeks ago.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told staff about the decision in an email on Wednesday.

“We’ll be slowing down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas, and on-boarding the many people who’ve been hired but haven’t started yet,” a Google spokesperson said. At the end of 2019, Alphabet employed 118,899 people full-time.

Google started asking its employees to work from home globally in March. The search giant has said it is covering wages and benefits for contract employees who work in its offices for a certain period, but has not announced any job cuts.

Here’s the full memo from Pichai:

Hi everyone,

It’s now been well over two months since we closed the first Google offices in Asia out of an abundance of caution around the spread of COVID-19. We couldn’t have imagined then how much could change, and how quickly, for so many people around the world. Our thoughts remain with those who have lost loved ones and with those who are currently battling the disease.

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2020, and it’s already been the most unusual year in memory. None of us could have predicted that most of us would now be working from home during the biggest global pandemic of our lifetimes.

Despite these strange circumstances, it’s been remarkable to see us step up to meet this challenge by doing what we do best: being helpful. We’ve continued to show up for people in moments big and small, whether it’s providing accurate and authoritative information to keep families safe; supporting products and infrastructure to keep our and others’ services running; and delivering great content to keep people’s spirits up in tough moments. We’ve also committed more than US$800 million in grants, loans and ad credits to help small businesses and others affected by COVID-19, and has committed US$50million (plus an additional US$2,500 in gift-matching per Googler) to help communities all over the world.

In addition to these efforts, many teams have been focused on helping governments and public health officials slow the spread of the disease. We’ve released insights based on aggregated, anonymized data to help public health experts measure the impact of social distancing measures. We announced a joint effort with Apple on contact tracing designed with strong privacy protections. And we’ve invested in ramping up testing (including through Verily) and the production of PPE and lifesaving medical devices.

I am so proud of the way we’ve come together across the company, and I want us to continue living up to our important mission in the weeks and months ahead. It won’t be easy. Just like the 2008 financialcrisis, the entire global economy is hurting, and Google and Alphabet are not immune to the effects of this global pandemic. We exist in an ecosystem of partnerships and interconnected businesses, many of whom are feeling significant pain.

The clear lesson from 2008 is that preparing early is key to weathering the storm and emerging in a position to continue long-term growth, as we have done over the past decade. So I wanted to share with you our current plans on what we think is the best path forward.

We are reevaluating the pace of our investment plans for the remainder of 2020. That starts with taking a more critical look at the pace of hiring for the rest of the year. For context, we hired 20,000 Googlers in 2019 and had been targeting a similar number for 2020. We have already onboarded more than 4,000 Nooglers and Characters in the first quarter, and thousands of additional new hires are starting soon. Not only are we facing delays in getting everyone their essential equipment, such as laptops and security keys, there are challenges in getting Nooglers up to speed, trained and productive on their new teams.

We believe now is the time to significantly slow down the pace of hiring, while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas where users and businesses rely on Google for ongoing support,and where our growth is critical to their success. By dialing back our plans in other areas, we can ensure Google emerges from this year at amore appropriate size and scale than we would otherwise. That means weneed to carefully prioritize hiring employees who will address ourgreatest user and business needs. Your leads will be in touch with youabout how this will work for your team.

Beyond hiring, we continue to invest, but will be recalibrating thefocus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers andmachines, and non business essential marketing and travel.

If you have additional ideas about how we can free up or redeployresources to make us more efficient and support our priorities, Iwelcome your thoughts and invite you to share them by replying here.

Amid this uncertainty, the bright spot for me has been watchingeveryone pitch in to help your teammates and communities, and to makethings better for the people we serve. We’ll need that same level ofenergy, ingenuity and teamwork in the weeks and months ahead. Working together, I’m confident that we’ll emerge from this challenge in astrong position.