Just how much the last two months of global lockdown have changed the work culture can be gauged by how Facebook is now responding to it. Till recently, they paid staffers a bonus to live near its headquarters in California and now they want half of the workforce to work from home forever. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a livestream on his personal page, said that as much as 50 percent of the company’s 45,000-person workforce could be working entirely remotely in the next five to 10 years. 

“We need to do this in a way that’s thoughtful and responsible, so we’re going to do this in a measured way. But I think that it’s possible that over the next five to 10 years — maybe closer to 10 than five, but somewhere in that range — I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently,” he said.

Just recently, another social media outlet Twitter announced it will allow its entire workforce to permanently work remotely. Other tech firms like Shopify and Coinbase have also made similar plans. Google Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has also spoken about the need to have flexibility in working approach.

In a further indication of the emerging new thinking, Facebook is also going to “aggressively” start hiring remote employees since they won’t be as tied to physical office space — particularly for senior-level personnel. 

“Enabling remote work is going to be very positive on that front toward creating more broad-based economic prosperity,” said Zuckerberg.

A survey conducted by Facebook found that 50% of employees said they were as productive working from home as they were at the office, Zuckerberg said. Among Facebook employees, 40% said they were extremely, very or somewhat interested in full-time remote work, and among that subset of employees, 75% said they were either pretty confident or they might move to a different city if they could work remotely, Zuckerberg said.

Interestingly, cost savings aren’t what’s motivating the changes. The Facebook CEO said the company may end up hiring more people to manage remote work, which could offset any savings in the costs to have more people working in fancy buildings. 

Zuckerberg’s announcement comes along with Facebook unveiling new features for Workplace, the company’s enterprise communication software. Boosted by the coronavirus pandemic, Workplace has grown its base from 3 million paid users in October to 5 million, the company said. (You can read everything about Facebook Workplace in our review here. )

With industry leaders setting the pattern, it is widely speculated that remote working or work from home may become the norm in the coming years. This would have a wide-reaching impact on technological tools needed for office work and also on real estate prices across the globe.

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