Facebook, Other Tech Giants Accelerating Back-to-Office Plans

Some of tech’s largest companies seem to be accelerating their back-to-office plans, including Facebook and Uber.

Facebook plans on welcoming 10 percent of its employees back to its California headquarters in May, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which also reported that the company will require those employees to follow certain health-minded protocols, including mask-wearing in the office. 

That’s a change from late last year, when Facebook told employees that it was targeting a July 2, 2021 date for getting people back to the office. For offices beyond San Francisco, Facebook states that employees will be able to work remotely until one month after their respective workplace reaches 50 percent capacity, at which point they’ll be expected back. 

These plans hinge on declining rates of COVID-19 infection in California and other states, and could be rolled back if there’s another spike in cases.

Other tech companies are also bringing their back-to-office dates forward. Microsoft and Uber have already begun admitting a limited number of employees back to their headquarters. While Amazon hasn’t publicly announced a firm date for bringing workers back, it has stated that it wants employees to embrace an “office-centric culture” rather than remote. 

This drive to quickly bring workers back to the office could resurface questions about the place of remote work within tech. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many workers wondered whether working from home would become permanent. Some companies, most notably Twitter, moved quickly to announce that all employees could work remotely for the foreseeable future.

At other companies, though, executives have put up considerable resistance to the idea that employees should be able to work from home even after the pandemic finally subsides. Even at companies that decided to give employees a permanent-remote option, there were caveats; at Facebook, for example, employees who want to work from home will face a salary cut if they move to a place with a lower cost of living. 

Over the coming months, technologists will figure out how much their employers actually believe in flexible and remote work. If companies begin to rescind on promises made during the pandemic about these alternative work options, it could irritate technologists, who have stated in survey after survey that they like the idea of either working from home full-time or only coming into the office a few days per week.