But with offices closed worldwide by the coronavirus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that nearly half of the company’s workers, currently 48,000, could work remotely within 10 years.
The number is not a target, but represents the company’s recognition that the concentration of employees in one large office, such as its headquarters in Menlo Park, may not be possible for a long time. Almost all Facebook employees can work from home until the end of 2020, and the company now allows certain employees to request permission to work remotely indefinitely.
Facebook will also start hiring for remote positions, starting with experienced engineers who live within four hours of an existing Facebook office. The company will create new office centers in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta, where real estate costs are only a fraction of the Bay Area.
The changes, as well as smaller companies like Twitter, Square and Coinbase approving remote work for almost all employees, could rewire the Bay Area’s vast technological ecosystem, reducing demand for some of the most expensive real estate in the world. country. This could result in emptier roads and more affordable housing, but also less tax revenue and less local employment, not only for engineers but also for auto mechanics, real estate agents, cafeteria workers and drivers shuttle.
“I think Facebook will be the most forward looking telecommuting company on our scale, and we have been working on a thoughtful and responsible plan to do so,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “It gives us access to talent pools outside of traditional technology centers in big cities – and it should help spread economic opportunities much more widely across the country and around the world while helping us build a business.” more diverse. “
Zuckerberg said last year that he expects Facebook real estate growth to be mainly outside the Bay Area as the region struggles with congestion and high costs. The coronavirus accelerates this trend.
“It’s probably late. In recent decades, economic growth in the United States has been fairly concentrated, with large firms often recruiting from a handful of metropolitan areas. That means we missed a lot of talented people just because they live outside of a big hub, “he wrote on Thursday.
The company still has extensive plans for real estate expansion in the Bay Area, such as its Willow Village project, which has been underway since 2017. This week, Facebook reduced the proposed office space by almost a third to 1.25 million square feet and increased the affordable housing plan by 15% to 20% of the 1,735 project housing units. A Facebook spokesperson said the changes were based on community feedback and not because of remote work changes.
According to an internal survey, more than half of Facebook employees want to return to the office as soon as possible, while about 40% are interested in full-time remote work, said Zuckerberg. Among the group interested in working at a distance, 75% said they wanted or planned to move elsewhere.
Workers who move to cheaper locations in the Bay Area would see lower wages, said Zuckerberg.
Facebook currently only allows remote work apps from experienced employees with good recent performance. They must also work in a team that supports remote work, which excludes content reviewers who remove illegal content from the service; hardware engineers; data center technicians; and people who work close to customers in sales, policy and partnership roles.
Zuckerberg wrote that there were many uncertainties about lesser human interaction, particularly with the hiring of new recruits. The company could end up spending more on remote work equipment compared to traditional offices, he said.
“It will take time for this to work for everyone. We will learn a lot from that, ”he wrote.
Roland Li is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @rolandlisf