Facebook Joins Wave of Big Tech Firms Offering More Remote Work Options

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This Oct. 25, 2019 file photo shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Paley Center in New York. If you want a gauge for what the future of office work will look like, watch how the biggest tech companies are preparing for a post-pandemic world. During an employee town hall Thursday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “We want to make sure we move forward in a measured way”. Facebook, which has nearly 45,000 employees, is looking five to 10 years down the line as it plans for more remote work, even when COVID-19 is no longer a threat that keeps its employees working from home. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
May 21, 2020
As an employer, Facebook has been known for its free food, lavish headquarters, and jaw-dropping employee events. But now the tech giant is shifting focus from creating envious workspaces to allowing many of its employees to work from the comforts of their own homes. The company is ramping up its efforts for remote hiring and will also allow experienced employees in good standing to work from home, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a staff meeting Thursday that was livestreamed on his public Facebook page. 
All employees will be allowed to work from home for the remainder of 2020.
"I think that it is quite possible over the next five to 10 years that about 50 percent of our people could be working remotely," Zuckerberg said.
The coronavirus crisis has caused many companies to rethink their office policies. Companies like Twitter, Square, and Shopify have all announced that most employees will be allowed to work from home permanently even after the coronavirus crisis has passed. While Facebook's work-from-home changes won't apply to its entire 45,000-person workforce, it is a sign of changes in a culture once dominated by in-office meetings, breakroom hangouts, and watercooler culture. The company will begin with hiring senior-level candidates for remote work positions. Typically this would mean level 5 engineers or above, or similarly qualified employees on the business side. College graduates and lower-level employees would still have to work in-office to receive appropriate training. 
Facebook will initially recruit remote workers from areas one to four hours away from an established office, Zuckerberg said. For example, this would allow Portland residents to qualify because they are near the Seattle office or San Diego residents who are close to the Los Angeles headquarters. The company is also looking at recruiting in Dallas, Denver, and Atlanta, where it plans to build community hubs. These spaces will not be traditional offices, but areas where Facebook employees could meet up, he added. 
It will also give senior employees at this level who have positive reviews and have managers okay with remote working the opportunity to make the work-from-home situation permanent, Zuckerberg added. 
Remote work, however, does not mean people would be able to also retain a desk at a Facebook office. The company is evaluating flexible work situations that would allow for both options but is not allowing it at this time due to logistics and costs. 
A Facebook employee survey revealed 20 percent of its staff were fully or extremely interested in working from home forever, Zuckerberg said. Another 20 percent were somewhat interested in the possibility. Working from home would provide some benefits for the company. For one thing, it could allow them to hire from different areas and create an opportunity for more diverse hires, Zuckerberg pointed out. 
"When you limit hiring to the small [numbers of] people who live in big cities are or willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people," he said.It also could limit the environmental impacts created by commuting and traffic, as well as fostering innovation for connectivity tools. With more reliance on Facebook Messenger and video chat, Zuckerberg said teams are finding bugs and improving the products at a faster rate. Its enterprise connectivity platform Workplace now has five million paid subscribers and users, up two million from when the coronavirus pandemic started. Its Work Groups has grown to 20 million monthly active users over the last six months. The company is adding more integrations for workers to Portal and is launching a wider release of Oculus for Business, two products initially meant for consumer users. 
While the decision to let more people stay home will provide cost reductions for the company, Zuckerberg dismissed the notion that it was one of the motivating factors. He did acknowledge it would cut the need for desk spaces and other office perks. But there will be other expenses, including flying remote workers in for company meetings and other set-up expenditures. 
In addition, those who work remotely will be paid in accordance with the cost of living for the area in which they reside. For current employees, some would have to take pay reductions to take advantage of the offer. Facebook is giving employees until January 1, 2021 to notify the company of where they are living currently so it can adjust salaries and tax requirements accordingly. 
Facebook shares hit an all-time high of $237.20 on Thursday. 
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