Friday, October 22, 2021

Facebook extends its work-at-home policy to all employees who can do so

Companies are beginning to acknowledge that there will be no going back to pre-Covid working practices.

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that the company will allow all full-time employees to work from home if their jobs can be done remotely.

This is a change from plans Facebook announced in May 2020, when the company said it would allow certain employees, notably the most senior and experienced employees, to request permanent remote work.

Zuckerberg made the new announcement in a memo to employees laying out the company’s plans for a hybrid office and remote setup, CNBC reports.

“We’ve learned over the past year that good work can get done anywhere, and I’m even more optimistic that remote work at scale is possible, particularly as remote video presence and virtual reality continue to improve,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Roles that cannot be done remotely typically include those working on hardware devices or on Facebook’s data centre setups.

Zuckerberg also said Facebook will begin allowing employees to request remote work across international borders.

After next Tuesday, the company will allow US employees to request remote work in Canada and those in Europe to request remote work in the UK, a Facebook spokesman said.

From January 2022, the company will allow employees to permanently move between seven countries in Europe.

Facebook, whose workforce totals about 60,000, plans to reopen most of its US offices at 50% capacity by early September and will likely reopen in full in October, the spokesman said.

Zuckerberg said employees who want to work in an office will be asked to come in at least half the time. This is to ensure that the office remains vibrant and that employees who do come into the office make the most of being a part of that community.

Additionally, he said Facebook plans to organise regular in-person gatherings for office and remote workers “to support relationship-building”.

Facebook is part of a growing trend.

On Monday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that he expects half or more of his software and cloud computing company’s employees to continue working from home after the pandemic.

Despite hefty real estate investments in recent years, including opening the 61-floor Salesforce Tower in San Francisco in 2018, Benioff said he has accepted that there’s no return to the pre-Covid days.

In an interview with CNBC, he said up to 60% of staffers will likely work from home, up from about 20% before the pandemic hit.

Salesforce is one of many billion-dollar tech companies trying to figure out how to make use of space that will no longer be occupied by staff. Others include Dropbox, Uber and Zendesk.

“The past is gone,” Benioff said. “We’ve created a whole new world, a new digital future, and you can see it playing out today.”

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