Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook employees that the company would be extending its policy for corporate employees to work from home until July 2021. The social media company has around 48,000 employees worldwide.
The Facebook CEO announced the move in a weekly Q&A virtual meeting with employees. Previously, Facebook said employees would start returning to its offices in January 2021. But as coronavirus infection rates continue to spike across the US, Facebook is following Google and Uber to become the latest tech company to extend its timeline for office closures. The move reflects a broader sense among tech companies that office life will not be back to normal until much later than initially anticipated at the onset of the pandemic.
“Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021,” said Pamela Austin, a spokesperson for Facebook in a statement to Recode. The company will also be giving employees an additional $1,000 for home office needs.
On Facebook’s earnings call last week, Zuckerberg said he saw “no end in sight” for when his staff would be able to return to the company’s offices. But his latest comments represent the first time he’s given a hard date for how long Facebook’s offices will remain largely closed. Facebook had also previously stated it was canceling all large corporate events until June 2021.
The extended timeline may prompt many Facebook employees to move. In a recent company poll, about 75 percent of Facebook’s corporate employees said they were highly confident they would move to a different city if they could work remotely. However, Facebook has said it will adjust employees’ salaries if they leave the regions in which they were hired, like the San Francisco Bay Area, for comparatively cheaper areas. The poll was seemingly taken before employees were aware their salaries may be docked if they did choose to move.
In May, Zuckerberg said Facebook would start allowing some high-performing, senior-level employees to request to permanently work from home. It was positioned as part of Zuckerberg’s long-term goal of having some 50 percent of the company’s workforce be working entirely remotely in the next five to 10 years.
While many of Facebook’s corporate engineers, designers, and business managers can mostly perform their jobs from home, it’s unclear what will happen to the thousands of service workers who normally keep Facebook’s physical offices running. Facebook uses third-party contractors to staff positions such as janitors, cafeteria workers, and shuttle bus drivers who take corporate employees to work and home. In March, Facebook, Google, Apple, and other major tech companies promised to continue to pay their support staff their pre-pandemic wages even during temporary office closures. But it’s unclear if these companies will maintain that promise as offices are staying closed for longer than expected.
“We have continued to work closely with our vendor partners and pay our CWs [contract workers] while working from home even if they are not able to perform their roles,” a Facebook spokesperson told Recode. “We’ll continue to assess what we can do as COVID-19 evolves.”
The spokesperson did not directly respond to Recode’s question about whether the company will continue to pay contracted service employees until July 2021 at pre-pandemic levels, or if the company is planning cuts to these positions.