Facebook to embrace remote work in post-pandemic shift

Daniel Fowler
June 26, 2020

Facebook's CEO says the company will begin "aggressively" hiring remote workers and allow current employees to request to work from home permanently.

Such a change could also amount to a rejection of the notion that creative work demands university-like corporate campuses, with free food, ping pong tables, and open office plans created to encourage unplanned interactions. Eventually, Zuckerberg said, as many as half of Facebook's workers could be working remotely.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company plans to "aggressively open up remote hiring" starting immediately with the US, particularly for engineering talent.

Facebook, which has already said it will stick to plans to hire 10,000 engineers and product employees this year, will also build three new "hubs" in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver where remote workers in those areas could occasionally convene.

In a live-streamed town hall, Mark Zuckerberg gave an overview for what he expects in the near future as Facebook pursues accommodations to keep workers productive and safe during the COVID-19 crisis. The company will adjust employees' salaries depending on where they live, he said. "There'll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.", he said.

Zuckerberg said that an employee survey conducted revealed that 20% of Facebook's workforce was "extremely or very interested" in switching to remote working completely once the virus-related restrictions are lifted.

Twitter went even further, announcing last week that it will allow some employees to work from home on a permanent basis, a plan CEO Jack Dorsey hatched before the coronavirus.

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The company would take a more "measured approach" with existing employees based on job function and past performance, he said, and set a January 1, 2021 deadline for staff to update the company on their new locations for tax purposes.

This shift to telecommuting marks a stark departure for Facebook, which, until recently, offered bonuses up to $US15,000 ($22,828) for employees to relocate closer to its Menlo Park headquarters to help offset the Bay Area's proliferating living costs.

The move is to build up e-commerce offerings follows the Facebook launch a year ago of limited shopping options on photosharing app Instagram and messaging app Whatsapp.

"This summer, starting in the United States, we're introducing Instagram Shop, a new way to discover and buy products you love in Instagram Explore", the Facebook team says.

Zuckerberg told the BBC in an interview that the social network was better prepared to counter online misinformation campaigns but admitted Facebook was "behind" during the 2016 election which Donald Trump won. "It's learning the culture and the rhythms of interacting with your colleagues by video conference and doing your work remotely", he said, speaking not just of Microsoft but workplaces in general. "Rather than charge business for shops, we know shops are valuable for businesses". Currently, most Facebook workers can opt to work from home through the end of the year, thanks to the pandemic.

"Even with social distancing, we think that the offices are going to be at about 25 percent density", he said. "And I think that this could change that sooner".

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