With 40 states in the U.S. currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases, it's no surprise that many companies are adopting indefinite remote work policies.
Continuing to work from home, or anywhere with an internet connection, is a no-brainer for employees who have gotten used to their new remote work lifestyle. Those employees who have been just as productive (if not more so) working remotely than when they were commuting into the office every day are even less eager to return to the office.
So, how are companies handling the dual forces of the ongoing pandemic and hesitation from some employees? In some cases, companies are letting their employees work from anywhere indefinitely. Here at Owl Labs, we've been saying that the future of work is flexible for a while now, and the good news is that there is room for all of us in a flexible future.
If you're still not sold on embracing the Work From Anywhere lifestyle, maybe these companies who have committed to the movement will inspire you to join them.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those companies who are planning a return to on-site work are doing so under strict CDC health and safety guidelines. While many companies are extending their remote work policies, a new survey from 451 Research that polled 575 IT decision-makers from a range of industries found that 67% of respondents expect work from home policies will remain in place permanently or at least for the long term.
Many industry leaders have already announced their permanent work from anywhere policies, with more predicted to follow suit in the coming months. The companies who have told their employees that they can work from anywhere forever include:
In June, Mark Zuckerberg announced on a Facebook livestream that as many as 50% of Facebook employees could be permanently working remotely in the next five to ten years. Based on the vocalized desire of his employees and to have a "more broad-based economic prosperity", Zuckerberg decided an indefinite extension of Facebook's remote work policy was a worthwhile change.
In addition to adopting a work from anywhere policy, Zuckerberg also said that the company plans to dramatically increase its remote hiring over time. "The company will begin by focusing on hiring for advanced engineering positions," Zuckerberg said. This change bodes well for those who would prefer to work from anywhere indefinitely, especially those who work in areas where Facebook has less of a presence. The company will begin by hiring remote employees in these areas such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver.
Although it didn't specify which roles will qualify for the new work from anywhere policy, Twitter announced recently that it will allow some employees to continue working from home "forever" should they choose to do so. "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," said Twitter's vice president of people, Jennifer Christie.
Additionally, Twitter has planned to not open any on-site offices until September 2020 at the earliest and has canceled all internal events through the end of the year. Twitter employees are in no rush to return to their office, but if they choose to return in the future, Christie says it will be, "with some additional precautions, when we feel it's safe to return." By prioritizing the health and happiness of its employees, Twitter is showing the rest of Silicon Valley how to be a leader in the midst of a pandemic.
Tobie Lutke, the CEO of the eCommerce platform for small businesses declared on Twitter, "office centricity is over" as a part of his announcement to keep Shopify's offices closed until 2021. Instead of having employees return to on-site work, Shopify plans to rework and repurpose their physical office spaces to accommodate this new reality.
Shopify has always employed remote workers, but this shift to complete and permanent remote work will still be an adaptation. By declaring, "The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup," Lutke is opening the door for other eCommerce platforms to follow suit and implement their own work from anywhere policies.
At the end of June, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said the company was going to allow employees to work from home indefinitely. "I don't know if it's impossible, but it's going to be very, very hard to walk back," Butterfield said. "If you go down this path and 20% of your employees are remote and 50% of them adjusted the way they work and where they live to work in an environment where they're in the office a day or two a week and then at home the rest, unwinding that is a little bit hard to imagine."
Relaxing your remote work policy to allow for safe hybrid re-entrance to on-site workspaces works best when the power of choice is still in employees' hands. Butterfield knows that when something isn't broken, there's no need to fix it. If any of your employees have discovered that their productivity and happiness levels are higher when working from the location of their choosing, why force them to return to the office? For more information on whether or not a hybrid schedule would work for you, here's everything you need to know.
The decision to extend work from anywhere policies indefinitely is not one that companies are taking lightly. For many years, the appeal of working for modern tech companies was in part due to their on-site company culture. Extravagant office complexes, amenities, such as ping pong tables, and expansive cafeterias have been used to entice potential employees to work for many of the companies who have now metaphorically shuttered their office doors.
However, since the federal government has issued no consistent reopening guidelines, individual states and companies have been left to create their own return to work plans that include testing, tracing, distancing, mask wearing, and sanitizing protocols. In lieu of creating these policies, companies have instead found it easier to extend their remote work policies. This decision not only prioritizes the safety of employees but their happiness as well.
In the new Work From Anywhere reality, offices will have to adjust their physical workspaces as well. Desks will be available to any employees on the days they choose to work in the office, and offices will function more like shared workspaces, with conference rooms, desks, and other equipment available for rental or reservation by employees.
Companies will have to be constantly adjusting and flexible during a time of worldwide change in perspective and workflow. If you're looking for other companies that have adopted a flexible work environment, check out these top remote companies next.