Facebook is expecting to move half of its workforce to work-from-home positions within the next five to 10 years, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced to the staff Thursday.
In a live-streamed video on his public page, Zuckerberg said that Facebook would be shifting most of the open positions at the company to remote work.
The company is starting by allowing senior engineers with strong performance histories to work remotely. Some employees will also be allowed to request to permanently work from home, based on consideration of their performance reviews.
The social media giant’s shift to a substantial remote workforce shows how some of America’s largest tech companies are reimagining their work-life culture and restructuring their businesses in a post-coronavirus pandemic world.
“Over the next 5-10 years, I think we could have 50% of our people working remotely, but we’re going to get there in a measured way,” Zuckerberg said in a statement posted after the staff meeting.
“I think Facebook will be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale, and we’ve been working on a thoughtful and responsible plan to do this.”
Zuckerberg told The Verge that the 50% estimate was a prediction and not a target they are trying to hit.
“I wouldn’t actually say that it’s a target or goal — I think it’s more of a prediction,” he told the news site.
A company survey found that 20% of its staff were “extremely or very interested” in full-time remote work, while 20% were “somewhat interested,” which is what helped Facebook make the shift in that direction.
About 45,000 people work for Facebook in 70 cities around the world. Currently, 95% of the company’s workforce is working from home and expect to continue that until January.
Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor and director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, pointed out that widespread quarantine orders are fundamentally changing the way the economy works.
“On the other side of the pandemic, companies are going to use a lot more technology and a lot more remote work,” Brynjolfsson tweeted. “That will [fundamentally] change the types of skills needed in the economy, the way work is organized and the nature of labor markets.”
Zuckerberg said that Facebook would be “aggressively” recruiting for remote employees since the company is shifting away from physical offices.
Facebook will first focus on hiring experienced engineers who live within four hours from one of their engineering offices in cities including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and San Diego, according to Zuckerberg.
New engineering hubs are also being set up in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver, the CEO said.
Twitter made a more dramatic move, announcing earlier this month that its staff would be allowed to work remotely forever if they wanted to. The policy would not apply to certain types of employees who cannot translate their job into remote work, such as employees who maintain servers.
“The past few months have proven we can make that work,” a statement posted to Twitter’s blog said. “So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”