In March 2020, the United States was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and technology companies were forced to close their offices. Most of them offered employees to work from home–temporarily or even permanently. The offices are expected to reopen in January-March 2021, but the work culture itself will definitely change. Some companies will have to rebuild the premises to prevent the spread of the disease. Others will abandon the physical office forever and launch periodic on-site meetings (remember off-site meetings of the pre-Coronavirus times?) as a team-building exercise.
How exactly do big tech companies see work in the future? Software Focus has collected the most interesting materials pertaining to this topic.
Twitter considered launching work from home (WFH) long before the pandemic.
In May 2020, Twitter allowed its employees to work from home on a permanent basis. However, the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey has been dreaming of “decentralization of the workforce” for several years. In particular, Twitter had plans to pay employees depending on their place of residence.
Even before the pandemic, some managers at Twitter experimented with remote work and testing of virtual meetings. All teams are now working to make video calls more effective. For example, they use special gestures when they want to say something or leave if necessary. Twitter has even come up with a new acronym for online rallies – ELMO (Enough! Let’s move on!)
Facebook has allocated $2,000 per employee to set up a full-fledged home office. Its employees can work from home until June 2021 or even on a permanent basis–if they will. However, residents of less expensive regions will face a reduction in wages.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expects that over the next decade, half of all employees in the corporation will move to remote work. As employees will not return to Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park in the near future, the company has redirected part of its bonuses (office “perks”) to work from home. In August, Facebook paid employees $1,000 to set up a home office, in addition to a similar payment in March. The company also plans to provide working parents with ten weeks of paid leave per year.
Amazon will allow employees to work remotely until January 8, 2021–provided they perform their duties effectively. For those who choose to work in the office, security measures have been introduced: physical distancing, intensive cleaning, and temperature screening. The company also provides face masks and hand sanitizers.
In response to the pandemic, Amazon has offered new benefits. Among the bonuses for full-time and freelance employees of Amazon and Whole Foods are discounts on tuition and ten additional paid days off per month for child care. The company claims to cover more than 90% of such costs.
Many tech corporations are rethinking the future of office space, but Amazon is not abandoning plans to expand. However, the scaling will take place outside the headquarters in Seattle. The company has recently announced that it is investing $1.4 billion in offices in six US cities and plans to hire 3,500 new employees.
In June, Slack announced that it would allow its employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. In addition, the company plans to further expand its staff at the expense of remote employees. According to Slack’s leadership, in the future the office will look completely different: fewer joint lunches and meetings with colleagues and more opportunities for individual work.
Microsoft now allows most of its employees to work from home all the time. In addition, the corporation has issued internal recommendations for a “hybrid workplace.” According to the plan, this policy should provide more flexibility when offices reopen. According to the recommendations, Microsoft employees will be able to work remotely up to 50% of the work week. And if the direct management does not mind, then 100%. Those who choose the option of full-time work will be deprived of a fixed job in the office, but they will be able to temporarily use the vacant workstations.
In July, Google confirmed that employees may not return to offices until next summer. The company also decided to help working parents and guardians by offering eight additional weeks off. In addition, all employees received $1,000 as home office assistance.
On October 1, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company planned to set up more hub offices for comfortable remote work in various locations. Although Pichai believes that most roles in Google are focused on office work, he described a model of “hybrid-flexible work” that will allow employees to continue working from home.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, CEO Reed Hastings said: “I don’t see any benefits in remote collaboration. The inability to come together in person, especially at the international level, is a complete negative. ” At the same time, the company does not plan to expose its employees to danger. Hastings said employees would not return to the office until there was a vaccine. More precisely, six months after the vaccine becomes widely available, or when “most people will be vaccinated.”
In the future, according to Hastings, the corporate world will likely move to a four-day workweek.
“Some work can be done effectively in virtual mode, but remote work is not the equivalent of face-to-face communication,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook during The Atlantic Festival. In an interview with Bloomberg in July, Cook said that Apple employees could continue to work from home until early 2021. He added that the company will monitor the success of vaccination and therapeutic tactics for the treatment of COVID-19. Apple offices will open and close situationally, depending on epidemiological conditions.
In early 2020, Salesforce released a 21-page guide on how to safely open office space. The guideline is about glass dividers and social distancing–even in elevators. Salesforce employees in the United States can continue to work from home until August 2021. The company has also introduced new bonuses for parents during the pandemic: from now on, they will be entitled to a 6-week vacation and will receive up to $100/day for five days each month until January 2021.
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