- More than 95% of Facebook's workforce is working remotely, and the company plans to make the adjustment a long-term change, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a May 21 town hall.
- The social media giant had already told employees they could work from home through 2020. But social distancing requirements will only allow for "25% density" in Facebook's existing offices, meaning that much of the workforce will need to continue to work remotely "for some time to come," Zuckerberg said. "Coming out of this period, I expect remote work is going to be a growing trend," he said.
- Zuckerberg declared that Facebook will be one of the most "forward-leaning" companies of its size in terms of remote work, and said that it will accomplish this in stages. Initially, Facebook will focus on remote hiring. "It doesn't make sense for us to be constraining all of our hiring to people who happen to live near offices that a lot of people aren't going to be able to go into anyway," Zuckerberg said. The company will then open permanent remote work for existing employees. Zuckerberg estimated that in the next five to 10 years, 50% of Facebook's workforce could be working remotely.
Facebook was among the first high-profile companies to announce restrictions in response to the novel coronavirus. A spokesperson told HR Dive March 2 it ended social visits to its offices, allowing only business visitors and moving candidate interviews online when possible.
The company's announcement may herald a wave of similar decisions from other companies. If so, those updates may not come as a surprise to many workers. More than a third of respondents in an April OnePoll and Citrix survey said they expect their organizations to be more relaxed about remote work following the pandemic. That said, respondents identified several problems accompanying remote work that varied in severity. Many reported tech-related challenges, such as home Wi-Fi connections.
Several of the remote work road bumps the respondents identified aligned with responses Facebook employees reported in an internal survey Zuckerberg referenced throughout his town hall. Many workers in both surveys reported wanting to get back to the office quickly. Some reported battling distractions and loneliness.
Employers who have gone remote in recent months have had to adjust quickly. Should they choose to make those arrangements permanent, they will likely need to tweak their processes and policies again, as Zuckerberg announced Facebook will do.
Such changes will likely vary based on industry and current practices, but Zuckerberg highlighted several universal challenges that would require the company's attention. Facebook will need to address its culture in the coming months, especially as workers reported feeling a lack of alignment, despite increased productivity.
The company will also need to address work-life balance, he said, though he noted that the company is not "in a position to make a decision on flexible work," which many had requested.