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Facebook’s embrace of remote work could reshape Bay Area economy – San Francisco Chronicle


This Oct. 25, 2019 file photo shows Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Paley Center in New York. If you want a gauge for what the future of office work will look like, watch how the biggest tech companies are preparing for a post-pandemic world. During an employee town hall Thursday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “We want to make sure we move forward in a measured way”. Facebook, which has nearly 45,000 employees, is looking five to 10 years down the line as it plans for more remote work, even when COVID-19 is no longer a threat that keeps its employees working from home. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

In 2018, Facebook signed the most important business office lease in San Francisco history at Park Tower, a testament to the social media giant’s relentless advancement, both electronic and physical. Late previous calendar year, the enterprise signed a New York business deal for twice as a lot area.

But with places of work shuttered across the earth by the coronavirus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that up to half of the company’s staff, who at present selection 48,000, could work remotely in ten yrs.

The quantity isn’t a target, but represents the company’s recognition that concentrating staff in a person huge workplace, like its Menlo Park headquarters, may possibly not be attainable for a long time. Nearly all Facebook personnel can get the job done from house through the rest of 2020, and the business is now letting some staff seek permission to work remotely indefinitely.

Facebook will also start out selecting for remote roles, commencing with knowledgeable engineers that stay in just four hrs of an existing Facebook office environment. The organization will build new business office hubs in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta, the place genuine estate costs are a fraction of the Bay Place.

The alterations, along with lesser corporations like Twitter, Sq. and Coinbase approving remote get the job done for pretty much all personnel, could rewire the Bay Area’s huge tech ecosystem, decreasing demand for some of the most costly serious estate in the place. It could final result in emptier roadways and much more economical properties, but also much less tax revenue and fewer neighborhood work possibilities, not just for engineers but also for automobile mechanics, real estate agents, cafeteria employees and shuttle drivers.

“I consider Facebook will be the most ahead-leaning company on distant perform at our scale, and we’ve been performing on a considerate and dependable strategy to do this,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Fb web site. “It lets us entry talent pools outside of standard tech hubs in big towns — and that should support spread economic opportunity a lot additional greatly about the nation and world while also supporting us create a more various firm.”

Zuckerberg mentioned very last yr that he predicted Facebook’s genuine estate development to be largely outdoors the Bay Place as the area grappled with targeted visitors congestion and significant fees. The coronavirus is accelerating that trend.

“This is in all probability overdue. Over the previous few decades, economic advancement in the U.S. has been rather concentrated, with key companies generally choosing in a handful metropolitan regions. That usually means we have been lacking out on a great deal of proficient persons just because they transpire to stay outdoors a significant hub,” he wrote on Thursday.

The business however has large Bay Space genuine estate enlargement options, this sort of as its Willow Village task, which has been in the works since 2017. This week, Fb lessened the proposed business space by just about a third to one.25 million square ft and improved the economical housing approach from 15% to 20% of the project’s one,735 residences. A Fb spokeswoman mentioned the variations were based mostly on neighborhood opinions and not due to the fact of remote function modifications.

In accordance to an inner poll, far more than 50 % of Fb workers want to return to the workplace as quickly as achievable, even though around 40% are intrigued in comprehensive-time remote get the job done, Zuckerberg said. Of the team that is interested in distant function, seventy five% explained they want to or would contemplate going elsewhere.

Staff who shift to much less high-priced spots from the Bay Location would see a fork out lower, Zuckerberg explained.

For now, Facebook is only permitting distant operate programs from experienced workforce with strong modern functionality. They must also work in group that supports remote do the job, which excludes content reviewers who get rid of unlawful material from the company components engineers facts heart specialists and persons who do the job near clientele in income, policy and partnerships roles.

Zuckerberg wrote there ended up many uncertainties all-around considerably less human conversation, significantly with bringing new hires on board. The enterprise could finish up investing additional on remote do the job machines in contrast to traditional offices, he said.

“It’s heading to consider time to make this operate for absolutely everyone. We’re likely to understand a lot from this,” he wrote.

Roland Li is a San Francisco Chronicle employees writer. E-mail: roland.li@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @rolandlisf

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