Facebook CEO Zuckerberg announces permanent remote work option for employees

Mark Zuckerberg expects that about 50% of Facebook's workforce will work remotely within the next five to 10 years.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the social media company will allow permanent remote work for many of its existing employees and "aggressively open up" remote hiring -- adding to a growing list of businesses and enterprises adopting long term work-from-home policies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.   

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"I think we are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work, at our scale for sure," Zuckerberg said. "But we will do this in a way that is measured and responsible and phased over time."

Zuckerberg expects that about 50% of Facebook's workforce will work remotely within the next five to 10 years. 

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same--here's what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

"That is not a target or a goal, but as we see the demand for remote work, coupled with aggressive remote hiring, I think it is quite possible that is where we will be," Zuckerberg said.

Also: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same - here's what to expect

Facebook had already told all of its staff that they could work from home through the end of this year, and potentially longer if the coronavirus pandemic resurges in the fall.

In the near term, the company will open up remote hiring in the US and Canada, a move that Zuckerberg said will significantly expand Facebook's recruiting ability and access to talent. 

"It doesn't seem that good to constrain hiring to people who live around offices," Zuckerberg said. "Right now we are doing well recruiting in small hubs, but being able to recruit more broadly is going to open a lot of new talent that maybe wouldn't have considered moving to a big city. It's also going to help us retain some important talent." 

Facebook will focus on building remote work hubs in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver. More immediately, the company will work to hire experienced engineers who live within a certain distance -- say a one to four hour drive -- from the cities where it has existing engineering offices, such Portland, San Diego, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

The company will also work to figure out which roles are best suited for remote work long term, and will follow up with a list on those roles within the coming weeks and months. 

Zuckerberg's announcement marks a major shift for the historically office-centric company, and it's indicative of a broader trend in business overall. The novel coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the vision for the future of work, with many companies committing to long term remote work policies to ensure the safety and stability of its workforce. E-commerce software giant Shopify also announced Thursday that it will become a "digital by default" company, with most of its employees permanently working remote.  

"Until recently, work happened in the office," Shopify CEO Tobi Lutki said in a series of tweets. "We've always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now. The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup."