- Facebook employees won’t be back in the office until the end of May at the very earliest.
- CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wants to be slow about returning to work to help others in its local communities who can’t work remotely so easily.
- And employees who don’t feel comfortable coming back yet will be able to work remotely through the summer.
- Zuckerberg’s post is one of the first statements from a major tech company discussing how it will attempt to return to normality.
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is taking a deliberately slow approach to having its employees return to its offices.
In a post on Facebook on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s tens of thousands employees would not return to its office until the end of May at the very earliest.
“We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Facebook has been able to transition to working remotely relatively smoothly, given its sophisticated digital infrastructure, and the company now says it wants to ensure people who have been more severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic are able to make use of public infrastructure first.
“We know that most people can’t work from home as easily as many of our employees can. We also know that when society does eventually start re-opening, it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely and that we minimize the possibility of future outbreaks,” Zuckerberg added.
And employees who don’t feel comfortable coming into the office will be able to continue to work remotely at least through the summer of 2020.
The post represents a significant step in how businesses are responding to COVID-19, and is one of the first statements issued by a big tech company that addresses how they plan to restore some modicum or normality to their workforce. The end of May – while not set in stone – also represents a fairly optimistic timeline for returning to work, even as concerns are raised that the United States is not conducting enough tests to safely relax shelter-in-place orders.
In a stark reminder of how long this crisis is expected to continue in some form, Facebook is also cancelling all major real-world events it was intending to host until at least June 2021.
This seems likely to include its annual virtual reality conference Oculus Connect (typically held in the fall), and F8, a big developer conference that is in normal times the highlight of Facebook’s year (typically held in April or May). There may be virtual versions of some events instead.
Here’s the full text of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s post:
“As we start to think about what it will look like to re-open society, I wanted to provide an update on how we’re planning for our teams at Facebook. The summary is: we’re slowing our plans to return to the office in order to prioritize helping the rest of our community and local economy to get back up and running first.
“We know that most people can’t work from home as easily as many of our employees can. We also know that when society does eventually start re-opening, it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely and that we minimize the possibility of future outbreaks.
“We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities. A small percent of our critical employees who can’t work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return to sooner, but overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time.
“We’ve also let our employees know that even after more of our teams can return, if there’s any reason they feel they can’t work in our offices — because they are in a vulnerable population, because with schools and camps canceled they don’t have childcare, or anything else — that they can plan to work from home through at least the summer.
“Even beyond this next period, guidance from health experts is that it won’t be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while. Given this, we’re canceling any large physical events we had planned with 50 or more people through June 2021. Some of these we will hold as virtual events instead and we’ll share more details on that soon. Similarly, we’re extending our policy of no business travel through at least June of this year as well.
“Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first. I hope this helps contain the spread of Covid-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.”Mark Said