The social network Facebook is joining the current trend of allowing its employees to work from home, as it recently noted that it will begin to allow some of them to submit applications to work remotely indeterminately.
Facebook could have about 50 percent of its company of 45,000 people working remotely in the next five to 10 years, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video. However, the firm will also cut wages to reflect cheaper costs of living in some cases, depending on location.
Facebook will start “aggressively” by opening up the hiring of remote workers, Zuckerberg said, even for people who live in areas within hours of their offices and in the new centers the company will establish.
“Certainly, being able to recruit more broadly, especially in the United States and Canada to start, will open up a lot of new talent that you wouldn’t have considered moving to a big city before,” he said.
Technology companies have been the first to include policies that allow their employees to do their work from home, after demonstrating that this system is effective during the coronavirus pandemic. Twitter, for example, said last week that it would allow all of its employees to choose whether they want to continue working from home for the long term even after the pandemic ends.
The industry, which relies heavily on computer jobs, is better positioned than most for most remote jobs. Nonetheless, companies have long relied on sprawling open campuses that emphasize hallway interactions and collaboration spaces.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a change of mind regarding this issue. Many expect that even when businesses decide that it is safe to reopen offices, remote work spaces and policies will look very different than they were before.
Facebook is taking a more measured approach than Twitter. It will begin recruiting employees for remote jobs outside of its usual office centers, Zuckerberg said, and some existing employees may apply to work remotely. But he said choosing to live in cheaper cities could mean that employees’ wages would be cut.
“Our goal here is to allow many existing employees to become remote workers, if you choose,” he said.
It should be noted that the social network will adjust workers’ wages, depending on where they live, paying less to those who work remotely from cities where the cost of living is lower. Facebook already pays different salaries based on locations, but this means that employees who can work remotely have until January 1 to tell Facebook where they live and could receive a pay cut.
“That means if you live in a place where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labor is lower, then wages tend to be somewhat lower in those places,” said Zuckerberg.
Still, according to The Washington Post, lower wages in smaller cities may not work for all jobs, especially for executive-level jobs. Will Hunsinger, CEO of Silicon Valley executive recruiting company Riviera Partners, said companies like Facebook will need to keep executive salaries high to compete with their rivals. Additionally, the company is likely to save money on operating expenses like free food and transportation services.
“They are going to pay them whatever it takes to get that talent,” he said.
A survey conducted on Facebook found that about 45% of employees interested in remote work were “fairly confident” that they would move to another location. Similarly, the report noted that about 40% of employees said they were somewhat, extremely, or very interested in remote work. Also, about 60% of employees requested flexibility or a combination of remote work and office work.
Facebook responding to that survey with its new policy could be a moral boost to the workforce. Some workers have said that a series of scandals, from Cambridge Analytica’s breach of data privacy to using the company’s platform to spread conspiracy theories and fake news, has damaged morale there.
Facebook has already said that most employees will work remotely until the end of the year, although it expects its offices to open for a small number of employees starting in July. Initially, the offices will only allow about 25 percent of capacity due to social distancing guidelines, Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s decision is likely to send ripples across the industry.
“It’s going to have a big effect,” said Margaret O’Mara, a history professor at the University of Washington studying Silicon Valley. “Facebook is great, it hires a lot of people, it’s a great recruiting force. The tech landscape right now is so dominated by these five very big companies.”
It will also give the company a recruiting advantage by giving it geographic flexibility, he said.
Facebook has the money to maintain its Menlo Park campus, something Zuckerberg promised to do in his announcement Thursday. But the company’s announcement could be even more influential for smaller and midsize tech companies, said O’Mara, who could now seriously consider remote working in part as a way to cut spending on office space.
Company engineers with strong performance evaluations will be the first group authorized to apply for remote work.
With the idea of working from home becoming increasingly attractive as people try to limit exposure to the coronavirus, Zuckerberg’s decision also follows other movements in which he has been able to quickly take advantage of a popular idea or product that he has just won. boost in the tech industry. He jumped into the cryptocurrency when the idea gained traction, working to launch a digital currency. His decision to buy Instagram when the company had just a dozen employees demonstrated the ability to see technology trends toward image sharing long before others, and his $ 19 billion WhatsApp mega-purchase demonstrated the ability to understand the role the messages would play. on social media.
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