Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his plans for the future of remote work at Facebook. By 2030, he promised, at least half of Facebook’s 50,000 employees would be working from home. “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale,” he declared in a follow-up interview. A few days before, Jack Dorsey had announced that Twitter and Square’s employees would be allowed to work “where[ever] they feel most creative and productive…even once offices begin to reopen.”
After spending the last two decades building amenity-filled campuses that maximize the ”collisionability” of talent and ideas while enticing their workers to stay in the office for as much time as they can, Covid-19 has shown these leading-edge technology companies that their workers can be just as productive — or in some cases, even more so — when they stay at home. It’s not just tech. Executives in traditional industries who spent days and weeks on the road are discovering that a well-managed Zoom meeting can be as effective as a face-to-face — and a lot easier (and less expensive) to organize.
Will Apple’s new $5 billion HQ, aka The Spaceship, turn out to be a white elephant? Will Google abandon its Googleplex? Will corporations empty out their office buildings everywhere and shrink their physical footprints? Are we on the brink of a new paradigm for work? Microsoft’s Satya Nadella isn’t so sure. Switching from all offices to all remote is “replacing one dogma with another,” he said in a conversation with The New York Times. “One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What’s the measure for that?”