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  • A Look at When Tech Companies are Returning to Work(place)

  • Chris Hoyt

    April 1, 2021 at 9:51 am

    Source: https://www.theinformation.com/articles/when-tech-companies-are-returning-to-the-office (highly recommended reading)

    Most Days in Office

    Emphasizes in-office collaboration while adjusting for new, virtual work routines

    Apple (about 147,000 employees) Over the course of the pandemic, CEO Tim Cook has said he has been surprised at how effectively Apple employees were able to continue their work remotely. But he has noted that physical interactions play an important part in creativity, and he said he can’t wait to return to the office. In December, Cook told employees he doesn’t expect most teams to work out of offices until June, according to Bloomberg.

    Netflix (8,000 employees) CEO Reed Hastings has said he expects most of the streaming service’s employees to return to the office once a majority get vaccines, perhaps working from home one out of every five days, according to The Wall Street Journal. Vaccination rates are rising rapidly in California, Netflix’s home state. Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that anyone over the age of 16 would be eligible to get a vaccine after April 15.

    Google (135,301 employees) The search engine giant has given its employees the option to work from home until September, although it expects to reopen offices before then. After September, CEO Sundar Pichai has said, Google and its Alphabet parent will try out a plan that requires employees to return to the office for at least three days of the week, allowing them to work from home for the other two. This is a more flexible schedule than the one Google followed before the pandemic and is similar to some hybrid approaches. Unlike many companies, however, Google is specifying that employees should spend most of the work week in the office.


    Mix of in-office and remote work; employees may have flexibility to choose their arrangement

    Microsoft (168,263 employees) Microsoft last week said more staff at its Redmond, Wash., campus can return starting March 29. During a period it’s calling a “soft open,” it is encouraging most staff to continue working remotely. Once it’s safe to fully reopen offices, which it previously forecast would happen no earlier than July, it expects that working from home part of the time (less than 50%) and flexibility in work hours will be standard.

    Uber (about 20,000 employees) The ride-hailing company will reopen its headquarters in the Mission Bay area of San Francisco on Monday, March 29, at 20% capacity for workers who wish to return. Its offices in Washington, D.C., and New York have already opened, as well as more than half of its offices around the world, according to a spokeswoman. Uber’s employees can work remotely until Sept. 13. After that, the company is looking at an unspecified hybrid work arrangement.

    Salesforce (54,000 employees) Salesforce’s remote-only plans extend until July 31. After that, it will deploy a new policy under which most employees will come into the office on a part-time basis once the company decides it is safe for them to do so. Salesforce expects 65% of its workforce to come into its offices between one and three days a week, with a small percentage coming in four to five days a week. Employees who don’t live near a Salesforce office and don’t have roles that require them to be in the office can continue working from home full time. Its San Francisco offices could open sooner than July.

    Facebook (More than 58,600 employees) Starting May 10, Facebook will start reopening some San Francisco Bay Area offices, including its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, at 10% capacity for employees who want to return. After July 2, employees who aren’t designated as full-time remote workers can keep working from home until a month after their office is at 50% capacity. For the large offices, the earliest they will be able to open at 50% capacity will likely be after Sept. 7, said a spokeswoman.

    Facebook has told staff that managers and senior employees in certain parts of the company can apply to work remotely permanently. Depending on their job, mid- and lower-level employees may also get to work remotely.

    Spotify (5,584 employees) Starting June 1, the audio-streaming company is introducing a policy that will give employees an option of working from home, going to the office, or a combination of the two. Starting Sept. 1, some employees will be able to choose which city or country they work in, depending on their roles.

    Adobe (22,516) The San Jose, Calif.–based software company says its employees will work in a “flexible and hybrid” office environment as pandemic restrictions ease. Employees will have the option to work remotely about 50% of the time, a company spokesperson said. Currently all employees can work remotely through July.

    Pinterest (2,500-plus employees) The earliest the scrapbooking site would require employees to return is August, but this is “subject to change as the situation continues to evolve,” said spokesman Mike Mayzel. Some employees may not even be required to return, depending on their job specification. The San Francisco–based company last year canceled an upcoming lease on new office space in the city, citing the impact of moving to a remote workforce.

    Twilio (4,629 employees) The software firm that helps companies automatically send text messages to their customers expects to be back in its San Francisco offices at some point this summer but hasn’t formalized a return date, said a spokeswoman. Employees can keep working from home through August and then will choose a mix of where they work. Twilio expects that 40% of its staff will stay fully remote after it’s safe to return to the office.

    ServiceNow (13,000-plus employees) Employees at the maker of software to handle IT requests have the option to work from home through at least September 7 while offices slowly reopen. The Santa Clara, Calif.–based company announced earlier this month that it will transition to a hybrid model where most people will be expected to be in the office three days a week or less and will still have an assigned workplace. A smaller percentage will mostly work in the office.

    Cisco (77,500 employees) The San Jose–based networking and telecom giant will move to a hybrid workforce once pandemic restrictions ease up. The company will consider both employee preference and business requirements in determining who is able to work from home, said a company spokesperson. Most employees are currently required to work remotely through June.

    Snap (3,863 employees) The photo-messaging site’s staff will have more flexibility when they come back to the office. The company plans to adopt a hybrid model.

    Zendesk (4,130) The maker of help-desk software says the earliest it envisions normal reoccupancy for most of its 15 offices around the world is September, though returns will depend on local health conditions. Once it is safe to return, Zendesk will be adopting a hybrid model. Some 40% of its roles are now classified as remote and the other 60% require employees to be in the office just two days of the week. “We expect that up to 50% of our employees will be working away from the office at any given time,” said Maarten Van Horenbeeck, chief information security officer, in emailed comments.

    Okta (2,806 employees) Okta, which sells software that companies use to let employees log into business apps and keep credentials secure, expects employees in the San Francisco office will return to the office no sooner than June. Employees have already returned to its Sydney, Australia, office at limited capacity, said a spokeswoman. Okta is giving staff the choice to return to the office, work from home or opt for schedules that include both. An Okta spokeswoman noted that some positions are better suited than others for in-office work and said the company would evaluate a few roles on a case-by-case basis.

    Box (2,000 employees) File-sharing company Box is targeting Sept. 1 for office openings and will take a staggered approach based on location, said a spokeswoman. The company will continue supporting current and future remote-only employees and plans to offer a “flexible, hybrid work environment” for employees that do choose to return to offices.

    Twitter (5,500 employees) Twitter made waves last year by announcing that employees could keep working remotely forever if they choose. Still, the company expects most employees will want to work in the office some of the time and will operate on a mixed or hybrid model. Twitter has not set a date to reopen its U.S. offices. When it starts opening them, they will start at 20% capacity.

    Square (5,477 employees) The San Francisco–based electronic payments company has given staff a similar message: They will be able to work from home permanently once offices reopen at a still unspecified date.

    Nvidia (18,975 employees) Employees at the Santa Clara, Calif.–based semiconductor company will be able to state their preference for returning to the office some or part of the time and the company will do its best to support hybrid or remote work for roles that allow it, a spokesperson said. Currently only essential employees are working in the company’s U.S. offices and Nvidia has not set a date for a broader return.

    Zoom Video (4,400 employees) Zoom will be returning to the office with a hybrid model, said a person close to the company.

    Zillow (about 5,400 employees) The Seattle-based online real estate firm has yet to set plans for when nonessential workers will come back. It has told employees that expectations about coming into its offices would vary by job function. Engineers, product managers and data scientists will be able to work fully remotely, although they may be called to the office once a quarter for collaboration sessions. Sales, marketing and other central staff will need to come to the office at least once every other week—although not necessarily on the same day each time—or when their manager sees fit.

    Remote First

    Most staff won’t need to work in an office, though they may be able to work or gather in offices

    Shopify (7,000 employees) CEO Tobi Lütke has said that Shopify is now “digital by default.” When it is safe to connect in person, Shopify plans to open remote hubs in major cities where it operates.

    Brex (550 employees) The provider of charge cards for startups has become a remote-first company. People can work from anywhere, and it is designing its communication and processes with the assumption that every employee will be remote. Employees will soon be able to work from Brex hubs in San Francisco and New York, and the company is planning offsite events where workers can meet in person.

    Dropbox (2,700 employees) Dropbox has said it would make remote work the primary option for its employees. The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco and has nearly a dozen offices around the world, is redesigning them as places where employees can hold team meetings and large group events. Dropbox expects employees to use these in-office meeting places about once a week initially, and they’re not intended for everyday use or solo work, said a company spokeswoman. Dropbox employees will be working from home until at least June, she said.

    Affirm (1,200-plus employees) This lender of installment loans for online shoppers has said it is now a remote-first company, with most roles available to anyone working in the U.S. or Canada. It retains a handful of offices for people who want to use them.

    Fully Remote

    Zero or minimal office space

    Cameo (about 200 employees) The 3-year-old celebrity-video startup became a fully remote company during the pandemic. It joins other tech firms that were fully remote long before the pandemic, including GitLab, Zapier and Automattic.

    No Long-Term Policy

    Airbnb (5,597 employees) Airbnb has said it would allow its employees to work from home through August, even if their home offices have reopened. The company hasn’t yet announced longer-term plans internally. While CEO Brian Chesky has talked up the potential for allowing remote work as a boost to its core business, the company historically has prized having physical office space.

    Amazon (1.298 million employees, though most don’t work in corporate offices) The legions of warehouse workers, delivery drivers and contractors that make up the bulk of Amazon’s workforce don’t have the option of working remotely. Late last year, the company said it would permit employees with jobs that can be done from home to work remotely through the end of June. It has yet to announce whether these employees will transition back to the office in July or will have the option of partially remote work. That said, most of Amazon’s corporate office space has remained open throughout the pandemic to employees whose work requires coming in. Employees must follow safety guidelines and submit to temperature screenings. Amazon declined to comment on its post-pandemic policy plans or offer updated guidelines.

  • Chris Hoyt

    April 1, 2021 at 11:50 am

    We’ve just spun up this quick poll of 5 questions – tell us (anonymously) with a few clicks what you expect!


    Returning to the Workplace


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