Facebook Inc will permanently embrace remote work even after coronavirus lockdowns ease, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday, accelerating the tech sector's geographic diversification away from its home in Silicon Valley.
Zuckerberg said the world's largest social network would start "aggressively opening up remote hiring," expecting that about half its workforce would work remotely over the next five to 10 years.
The company would take a more "measured approach" with existing employees based on job function and past performance, he said, and set a January 1, 2021 deadline for staff to update the company on their new locations.
Facebook, which has already said it will stick to plans to hire 10,000 engineers and product employees this year, will also build three new "hubs" in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver where remote workers in those areas could occasionally meet.
"These aren't necessarily offices," Zuckerberg said, although the company would likely create "some kind of physical space" to accompany them. "The idea for these hubs is that we want to create scale. We want to focus the recruiting energy in some cities where we can get to hundreds of engineers."
He predicted some cost savings related to real estate, food and labor costs, as sky-high compensation packages common in Silicon Valley will be adjusted if Facebook employees opt to live in less-pricey regions.
The move follows a similar announcements earlier this month by social media rival Twitter and payments company Square, which were the first major tech companies to permit remote work indefinitely.
Facebook is a much larger company, however, and its decision is likely to have a more pronounced impact on the sector's work culture.
The effect on costs is unclear, Zuckerberg said, as savings will be partially offset by additional costs related to travel and technologies associated with setting up home offices.