Mark Zuckerberg interview with NBC News on remote work push

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that the social media giant would start allowing many of its 50,000 employees and new hires to work from home permanently, adding to the small but growing number technology companies that adopted decentralized work during the coronavirus pandemic. .

“We are going to be the most forward-looking company on remote working at our scale, with a thoughtful and responsible plan on how to do it,” Zuckerberg said in an interview. “We will do it in a measured way over time.”

Over the next five to 10 years, Zuckerberg predicts that roughly 50% of Facebook’s workforce will work remotely. This would mean a significant change in the concentration of staff that could radically change the way the business works and have an impact on San Francisco Bay.

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This process will begin with an “aggressive opening up of remote recruitment” – first in the United States, then elsewhere – beyond the urban centers where Facebook has offices.

“It doesn’t seem that good to restrict hiring to people who live in offices,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook will also allow existing employees to apply to work remotely. Those who have demonstrated good performance and are able to work remotely can then be allowed to do so permanently. Facebook has already told the vast majority of staff that they can work from home until the end of this year.

The Facebook announcement, which Zuckerberg relayed to employees during a company-wide question and answer session Thursday, comes after Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced that employees in his two companies could operate remotely in the future. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify announced a similar decision on Thursday.

The change to Facebook will be much more gradual, said Zuckerberg.

“There is a significant contrast between what we do and what some other companies do,” said Zuckerberg. “This is not a solution for everyone. We actively open up remote recruitment, then … start a process where some people, gradually, can apply to work remotely.”

Yet Facebook’s move – and Zuckerberg’s expectation of a 50-50 split between office and home workers by 2030 – marks a seismic shift for Silicon Valley and American businesses in general, especially if other companies are inspired to follow suit.

Recent research from the University of Chicago has estimated that 37% of jobs in the United States can be plausibly performed at home. But the number is significantly higher in regions like Silicon Valley (51%) and San Francisco (45%). But only 2% of the United States works regularly from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economics professor who has done extensive research on decentralized work, said he expected these numbers to double after the pandemic. This will have important ramifications for employees, businesses and even American cities.

Bloom cited a study showing that employee productivity increases by 13% when people work from home, although other factors such as creativity decrease.

This meets Zuckerberg’s expectations.

“People can work remotely on projects,” he said. “Where there is an open question is on softer things: alignment, social ties, creativity.”

“It is one thing to work effectively on the projects we are already working on. It is another to think about the next ideas,” added Zuckerberg. “This is a weakness of current remote tools. It will be an area in which we will have to develop.”

Remote tools are also becoming a more important part of Facebook’s activities. The company recently launched Messenger Rooms, a competitor to Zoom, and is also working on new features for Portal, its video hardware device. Facebook said Workplace, its corporate communications tool, now has 5 million paid subscribers, up from 3 million in October.

In the long term, Facebook is actively pursuing new innovations in augmented and virtual reality that could make remote work much more transparent. Facebook owns the virtual reality hardware company Oculus.

In January, Zuckerberg predicted that the company would have “revolutionary augmented reality glasses” that would give people “the opportunity to be” present “anywhere”.

“Many people today feel that they have to move to town because that is where the jobs are. But there are not enough homes in many cities, so the cost of housing are soaring as quality of life declines, “wrote the Facebook chief. “Imagine if you could live where you wanted and get any job elsewhere. If we do what we build, it should be much closer to reality by 2030.”

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