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Even after coronavirus lockdowns, Facebook will permanently embrace remote work


Facebook Inc will permanently embrace remote work even after coronavirus lockdowns are smooth, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday, accelerating the geographic diversification of the tech sector away from its Silicon Valley home.

Zuckerberg said the world's largest social network would start "aggressively opening up remote hiring" in July, expecting about half of its workforce finally to do their jobs outside Facebook offices over the next five to ten years.

The company would take a more "measured approach" with existing employees based on job function and past performance, he said, and set a deadline of January 1, 2021 for staff to update the company for tax purposes on its new locations.

The move is the most significant yet by a tech giant to re-imagine what work culture in a post-coronavirus world will look like, as the pandemic upends office and commuting habits for businesses around the world.

It follows similar announcements by social media rival Twitter earlier this month as well as payment company Square, both led by Jack Dorsey, who were the first tech companies to allow remote work indefinitely.

But Facebook is a much larger company with almost 50,000 employees, and a new proposed structure for remote work was further developed. Its decision will likely have a marked impact on the San Francisco area, where the rapid growth of the tech sector has strained regional infrastructure.

Facebook, which has already said that it will stick to this year's plans to hire 10,000 engineers and product employees, will also build three new "hubs" in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver where remote workers may occasionally meet in those areas.

"These are not necessarily offices," Zuckerberg said, though "some kind of physical space" would likely be created by the company to foster community. "The idea for those hubs is to create scale. In some cities we want to focus the recruiting energy where we can get to hundreds of engineers.'

The total impact of the shift to remote work on costs is unclear, Zuckerberg said. The real estate, food and labor costs savings will be partially offset by additional travel and logistics expenses associated with home offices.

He said the company is committed to maintaining its current office spaces, which include a tony Menlo Park headquarters designed by architect Frank Gehry, with a rooftop garden and a redwood trees sheltered courtyard.

However, the sky-high compensation packages common in Silicon Valley will not necessarily be shifted to other parts of the country. Zuckerberg said salaries will be adjusted if Facebook employees choose to live in cheaper regions, in line with the existing cost-of - living calculations of the company.

"We are paying very well, basically top of the market, but we are paying a market rate. And that varies from location to location, so we will continue that principle here, "he said.

Internal surveys indicate that around 60 percent of Facebook staff preferred a flexible approach to work, with a mix of remote and office-based functions, Zuckerberg said.

Inside that group, he said, if given the option, they would move to another region just under half reported.

He said there were no differences per gender in the results.

Article Edited by | John Heine |

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