Facebook joins Microsoft in calling off events until summer 2021

17 Apr 2020

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Facebook is cancelling all physical events with more than 50 people until June 2021, replacing some of its conferences with online and virtual events.

On Thursday (16 April), Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media company would be cancelling all physical events with more than 50 people until June 2021.

The news comes less than a fortnight after Microsoft announced that all of its upcoming external and internal events will be held online until July 2021.

“Guidance from health experts is that it won’t be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while,” Zuckerberg said. “Given this, we’re cancelling any large physical events we had planned with 50 or more people through June 2021.”

He added that some of these events will now be held online, with the company sharing more details on this in the future. The cancellations include the company’s upcoming Oculus Connect 7 virtual reality conference, which will now be replaced by an online event.

The company has also extended its policy of no business travel to at least June of this year.

Returning to work

Although Facebook is holding off on large events for the next year, the company is planning for how and when it can bring certain employees back to their offices.

Facebook hopes to bring “critical” employees who can’t work remotely back to the office first. These employees include content reviewers who work in the areas of counter-terrorism, self-harm and suicide prevention, as well as engineers working on complex hardware.

Zuckerberg said that beyond these critical workers, Facebook is “slowing” its plans to return to the office, adding that the vast majority of employees will be working from home through “at least the end of May”.

He added that many of the company employees “are fortunate to be able to work productively from home”, so the company feels a responsibility to allow the people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first.

“We’ve also let our employees know that even after more of our teams return, if there’s any reason they feel they can’t work in our offices – because they are in a vulnerable population, because with schools and camps cancelled they don’t have childcare, or anything else – that they can plan to work from home through at least summer,” Zuckerberg said.

“I hope this helps contain the spread of Covid-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic