News

Facebook to undergo long-term shift to permit more remote work

Company's offices could be reduced to 25% of usual capacity

The Facebook "like" icon is located at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road in Menlo Park. Photo by Michelle Le.

During a Facebook Live video streamed to company employees and the public alike, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday morning, May 21, that the social media company would be expanding its efforts to hire remotely and offer permanent remote work opportunities to some employees.

He had already announced that people who can do their job from home through 2020 should plan to do so, but said Thursday he predicted that within five to 10 years, roughly half of the company's employees could be remote workers.

The shift to permanent remote work would be phased and methodical, he said.

That process would start later this year, with Facebook allowing some experienced employees in departments like engineering and business to switch to permanent full-time remote work, and expanding remote job opportunities to experienced applicants living in locations where Facebook doesn't currently have offices.

Interestingly, he said, experienced employees were far more likely to prefer working remotely than younger workers such as recent college graduates.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Facebook is still committed to retaining its office spaces, Zuckerberg said. But a major question for the company is that COVID-19 will likely be a concern even into 2021, and it's not clear yet how offices will have to adapt to be safe for employees, he said.

Facebook's offices, which have lofty, open-style layouts, could be reduced to about 25% of their usual capacity once they're allowed to reopen, Zuckerberg said.

The gradual switch to remote work at Facebook will mean that, ultimately, many employees won't have to live near the company's Menlo Park headquarters to do their jobs, which could have long-term implications for the city.

Since Facebook moved to Menlo Park in 2011, the city remains on relatively good terms with its hometown corporate giant and has in many instances benefited from donations, partnerships and agreements with Facebook. But the company's explosive growth in town has also triggered growing pains, such as what seemed like unsolvable traffic problems on the city's Bay side, and escalating gentrification pressures as the company's highly paid workers drove up local housing prices in a sorely limited market.

Just the previous day, the city of Menlo Park received updated designs from Facebook and developer Signature Development Group for the company's proposed Willow Village development, an ambitious mixed-use office park proposed as an extension of the company's headquarters, set to include more than 1,700 housing units and a nearly 200-room hotel, plus parks, a grocery store, shops and a visitor's center.

The updated proposal cut the number of workers expected to occupy the new offices by about 2,550 employees, but would still permit about 7,000 new workers, about double the number of employees that worked there before the pandemic struck. That change both presents a response to public calls for the development to provide a better balance the ratio of jobs to housing, and aligns with the possibility that the Facebook of the future could be less reliant on needing an army of employees in Menlo Park than it has in the past.

Zuckerberg also cited an employee survey, which found that while a little more than half of Facebook workers wanted to get back to office work as soon as possible, about 20% to 40% were interested in working remotely permanently. Of those, many said that not having to commute offered them more time to work and more personal time, he said.

In addition, expanding access to employment at Facebook beyond just people who live in, or are willing to live in "a small number of big cities," could create "more broad-based economic prosperity and hopefully a more sustainable, social and political climate," Zuckerberg said.

To date, Facebook has offered workers access to private commuter shuttles to and from Menlo Park throughout the far stretches of the Bay Area, as well as provided employees with free food at work, among many other on-site amenities. Those amenities are provided by an additional workforce, contract workers who provide culinary and security services, among others, at Facebook's offices in Menlo Park. While Facebook has continued to pay contract workers during the COVID-19 crisis who can't do their jobs from home, it's not clear how long those efforts might continue.

Facebook does anticipate bringing people back to the office when it's safe, and continuing to have many people still working out of its offices around the world, including in Menlo Park and the Bay Area, said spokeswoman Chloe Meyere. "We are still growing and expect to have strong communities across our offices, supported by our facilities and culinary staff," she added in an email.

While allowing remote work could cut down on the costs to provide food and other on-site employee perks for the company, the main reason Facebook is considering these measures has less to do with cost-saving measures, Zuckerberg said.

In fact, he said, outfitting workers for full-time remote work has created and will generate different costs, not just for technology but for potentially increased travel costs to allow remote workers occasional on-site training and team building.

In addition, he said, since Facebook is so focused on creating products that enable people to feel connected over long distances, the shift will require employees to use their own products more, which could help improve them.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Facebook to undergo long-term shift to permit more remote work

Company's offices could be reduced to 25% of usual capacity

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, May 22, 2020, 1:35 pm
Updated: Wed, May 27, 2020, 8:48 am

During a Facebook Live video streamed to company employees and the public alike, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday morning, May 21, that the social media company would be expanding its efforts to hire remotely and offer permanent remote work opportunities to some employees.

He had already announced that people who can do their job from home through 2020 should plan to do so, but said Thursday he predicted that within five to 10 years, roughly half of the company's employees could be remote workers.

The shift to permanent remote work would be phased and methodical, he said.

That process would start later this year, with Facebook allowing some experienced employees in departments like engineering and business to switch to permanent full-time remote work, and expanding remote job opportunities to experienced applicants living in locations where Facebook doesn't currently have offices.

Interestingly, he said, experienced employees were far more likely to prefer working remotely than younger workers such as recent college graduates.

Facebook is still committed to retaining its office spaces, Zuckerberg said. But a major question for the company is that COVID-19 will likely be a concern even into 2021, and it's not clear yet how offices will have to adapt to be safe for employees, he said.

Facebook's offices, which have lofty, open-style layouts, could be reduced to about 25% of their usual capacity once they're allowed to reopen, Zuckerberg said.

The gradual switch to remote work at Facebook will mean that, ultimately, many employees won't have to live near the company's Menlo Park headquarters to do their jobs, which could have long-term implications for the city.

Since Facebook moved to Menlo Park in 2011, the city remains on relatively good terms with its hometown corporate giant and has in many instances benefited from donations, partnerships and agreements with Facebook. But the company's explosive growth in town has also triggered growing pains, such as what seemed like unsolvable traffic problems on the city's Bay side, and escalating gentrification pressures as the company's highly paid workers drove up local housing prices in a sorely limited market.

Just the previous day, the city of Menlo Park received updated designs from Facebook and developer Signature Development Group for the company's proposed Willow Village development, an ambitious mixed-use office park proposed as an extension of the company's headquarters, set to include more than 1,700 housing units and a nearly 200-room hotel, plus parks, a grocery store, shops and a visitor's center.

The updated proposal cut the number of workers expected to occupy the new offices by about 2,550 employees, but would still permit about 7,000 new workers, about double the number of employees that worked there before the pandemic struck. That change both presents a response to public calls for the development to provide a better balance the ratio of jobs to housing, and aligns with the possibility that the Facebook of the future could be less reliant on needing an army of employees in Menlo Park than it has in the past.

Zuckerberg also cited an employee survey, which found that while a little more than half of Facebook workers wanted to get back to office work as soon as possible, about 20% to 40% were interested in working remotely permanently. Of those, many said that not having to commute offered them more time to work and more personal time, he said.

In addition, expanding access to employment at Facebook beyond just people who live in, or are willing to live in "a small number of big cities," could create "more broad-based economic prosperity and hopefully a more sustainable, social and political climate," Zuckerberg said.

To date, Facebook has offered workers access to private commuter shuttles to and from Menlo Park throughout the far stretches of the Bay Area, as well as provided employees with free food at work, among many other on-site amenities. Those amenities are provided by an additional workforce, contract workers who provide culinary and security services, among others, at Facebook's offices in Menlo Park. While Facebook has continued to pay contract workers during the COVID-19 crisis who can't do their jobs from home, it's not clear how long those efforts might continue.

Facebook does anticipate bringing people back to the office when it's safe, and continuing to have many people still working out of its offices around the world, including in Menlo Park and the Bay Area, said spokeswoman Chloe Meyere. "We are still growing and expect to have strong communities across our offices, supported by our facilities and culinary staff," she added in an email.

While allowing remote work could cut down on the costs to provide food and other on-site employee perks for the company, the main reason Facebook is considering these measures has less to do with cost-saving measures, Zuckerberg said.

In fact, he said, outfitting workers for full-time remote work has created and will generate different costs, not just for technology but for potentially increased travel costs to allow remote workers occasional on-site training and team building.

In addition, he said, since Facebook is so focused on creating products that enable people to feel connected over long distances, the shift will require employees to use their own products more, which could help improve them.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

David Page
Midtown
on May 22, 2020 at 3:16 pm
David Page, Midtown
on May 22, 2020 at 3:16 pm
8 people like this

Potentially 1,200 residents of Santa Clara County may die annually due to air
pollution:
Web Link

How many county residents have died, tragically, from covid-19?
Why is this other public health disaster (air pollution) not discussed as a reason to reward/promote remote work?
More than 4 tons of toxic emissions - per commuter / per year - come out of car tail pipes.

Please spread the word - car commutes are not harmless.


hkatrs
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 25, 2020 at 11:02 pm
hkatrs, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 25, 2020 at 11:02 pm
2 people like this

In light of Facebook creating Willow Village; perhaps they could help Menlo Park’s Homeless people, approximately 60 people, who live in the grassland area next to Facebook and who started the recent fire in May. The Menlo Park Fire Chief said in a recent news report that his firefighters have been risking their lives dealing with the fires set by this group, in addition to booby traps and deep holes dug randomly in the grasslands that are latrines and contain ‘needles’. Can’t Facebook take an interest in the plight of the Menlo Park Homeless; use their connections with their medical practitioners and help the addicts? If FB is going to hire roughly 7000 people; hopefully some of them can be from the grasslands near their headquarters! Perhaps even a facility could be built to help rehabilitate the addicts and FB’s social platform could have a new purpose to help people live healthier lives. What do you say FB? Take your company to the next level and include the ‘have nots’ in your business plan? Be a true social platform.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2020 at 9:48 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2020 at 9:48 am
Like this comment

I have noted a change in my FB page - they have changed the format and I do not like it. My sister-in-law recently wanted to get donations through FB - who is trying to act like a bank. The handling of any financial activity through a company that has employees who work from home is fraught with many conflicts of interest. When people are in a building with other workers on the company server they have a different mind-set then individuals working from home. From where I am siting any donations to anything will be handled off-line and not through some one's new creation of a bank. But that is just personal for me since I have already had a compromised situation regards banking and people getting on charge cards with no authorization.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Like this comment

Good news all around. "about 20% to 40% were interested in working remotely permanently." Here's hoping that will become 75%. Whether working from home or in satellite offices located where employees homes are clustered, it is all much better than everyone commuting to one spot.

When I started work in the area, experienced people often got private offices with 160 square feet, and, everyone got 80 square feet. Overall, 250 square feet of floor area including meeting rooms, mgmt, etc., was standard. Think of all the stuff you are using now that was invented then. ;-)

Conditions now are awful crowding-wise, and, not surprisingly, the biggest inventions of the last 10 years have all been ways of reducing everyone's privacy further and further and "monetizing" people's formerly private information. Let's give everyone more space and see if there is something else that can be invented besides "no privacy".


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Not sure?