From Fujitsu’s plans for a ‘borderless office’ to Siemens’ mobile working model, learn more about the remote work policies major companies have set in motion.
It’s hard to know what the future of work holds. How we work, where we do it from and the ways in which we collaborate have all been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. And though it’s difficult to predict how things will look in the coming months, many companies have made an executive decision on operations for the foreseeable future. Here, we’ve compiled some of the major announcements around working from home to date.
In July, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that staff would continue to work from home for the moment. On the company’s earnings call, he said that there is currently “no end in sight” for when teams will be able to return to office.
Commenting on his predictions for the future, Zuckerberg said that he expects up to 50pc of employees to become long-term remote workers.
“During this time, we found that most Facebook employees can productively work remotely,” he said. “Even before Covid, we had a long-term goal of enabling more remote work since the ability to feel present even when you’re remote is a core aspect of our own product work on video presence, workplace, and virtual and augmented reality. We’re using this moment to accelerate these plans.”
More recently, Facebook staff were told that they could work from home until the middle of next year. The company has even announced plans to incorporate its VR technology, Oculus Quest 2, into developing virtual workplaces.
Fujitsu also announced its working-from-home plans in July. The Japanese technology company launched a permanent remote working plan for 80,000 of its employees in the country, which will reduce its office footprint by up to 50pc by the end of 2022.
It also said that its workforce will begin to avail of a hot-desking system and more flexibility in terms of their workload and content, their role within the organisation and their lifestyle.
The three major tenets of Fujitsu’s new way of working are smart working, primarily based on remote working; a “borderless office”, pivoting instead to regional hubs and hot desks; and culture change, which will equip all employees with better one-to-one communication skills and offer enhanced support.
Google employees will officially be working from home until at least July 2021. This extends to all of Alphabet and Google’s 200,000 workers, making it the first major US company to implement remote working at this scale.
Back in May, Google had planned a phased return for staff beginning in July 2020. Given the evolving Covid-19 situation, however, the company made the call to keep employees out of the office for another year.
US employees at technology giant Microsoft will keep working from home until at least January. “On July 30, we shared additional information on our hybrid workplace strategy with our global workforce and extended the option of working remotely through 19 January 2021 at the earliest in the US,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
The company said it will continue to “review the situation on a local basis” in each of its regions, countries and states and will “adjust dates by country as needed”.
Netflix has proved to be an outlier in terms of its leaders’ approach to remote working. Earlier this month, co-CEO Reed Hastings claimed that he views working from home as a “pure negative”. He told the Wall Street Journal that it has been more difficult to debate ideas.
The streaming company’s 8,600-strong workforce will return to the office “six months after a vaccine”, he said.
Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, said that it has no plans to bring staff back into the office until “at least 31 July 2021”. CEO Marc Benioff explained that employees were allowed to continue working remotely until the end of 2020 regardless of whether or not the office had reopened.
The company later decided to make working from home a requirement until next summer, at which point it will bring people back on a case-by-case basis and in line with local public health mandates and government guidelines.
Recently announced as the most valuable public company in Canada, Shopify was well-placed for the Covid-19 pandemic due to its e-commerce standing. Leaders at the company said that its offices will be closed until 2021. After they reopen, however, employees will be able to continue to work remotely on a permanent basis.
Shopify founder and CEO Tobias Lütke said: “As of today, Shopify is digital by default. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. Office centricity is over.”
Siemens has taken a slightly different long-term approach to its operational plans. Its New Normal Working Model will encompass mobile working, allowing staff to work remotely for an average of two or three days every week. The new model will be permanent, the company said, remaining in place after the pandemic has ended.
Deputy CEO and labour director, Roland Busch, said: “The basis for this forward-looking working model is further development of our corporate culture. These changes will also be associated with a different leadership style, one that focuses on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office.”
#covid19 gives us a chance to reshape our world and reimagine work. To empower @Siemens employees to perform their best, our #newnormal working model will offer 2-3 days mobile working. #FutureofWork #DigitalTransformation https://t.co/Up6okRkufa
— Roland Busch (@BuschRo) July 16, 2020
Slack employees will also work remotely indefinitely, the company’s CEO Stewart Butterfield said at a Bloomberg panel discussion. Butterfield said that while it’s important to set certainties for staff, flexibility will be key to the instant-messaging platform’s future.
“We are going to let people work remotely, we are going to offer flexibility,” he said, confirming that these policies will be implemented indefinitely.
The Swedish company said it will “continue to track local government guidelines city by city and take a phased approach of opening our offices when we deem it safe to do so.
“Our employees’ health and safety is our top priority. No employee will be required to come into the office and can choose to work from home through the end of the year.”
When Covid-19 hit Europe and the US, Twitter was one of the first major technology companies to roll out remote working. As the pandemic progressed, CEO Jack Dorsey told Twitter employees that they could work from home “forever”.
The company’s vice-president of people, Jennifer Christie, said, “If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.
“If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return,” she added.