From pay cuts to permanent work-from-home, here's how Silicon Valley companies are thinking about the future of work
JOSH EDELSON / AFP via Getty Images
The world's largest tech companies have different plans for the future of work.
Some companies like Twitter and Slack have stated that employees never have to return to the office.
Others, like Microsoft, are reportedly using a hybrid model where employees report to the office only a few days a week.
Companies like Amazon and Salesforce are using new services to help working parents, such as subsidized childcare and extended paid vacation.
With Facebook, employees can work from home permanently. However, if they leave the Bay Area for a cheaper city, they will likely face a wage cut starting in January.
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The future of Silicon Valley may bear little resemblance to the thriving center we knew before the pandemic.
Since the coronavirus pandemic struck the US in March, tech companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area have largely closed their sprawling offices and asked employees to work from home - in some cases forever.
Whether in January, next summer, or beyond, these offices will open their doors again, but office life is unlikely to resemble the old days for workers who choose to return.
For some businesses, this can mean rethinking their physical spaces to prevent the spread of disease. For others, this may mean changing their real estate plans altogether and opting for a new type of office instead, or none at all. In some cases, this can mean rethinking where employees live and how they're paid.
This is how the biggest tech companies plan the future of work.
Even before the pandemic, Twitter was preparing for a "decentralized" workforce.
Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
While Twitter employees were told earlier this year that they would have the option to work from home permanently, having a decentralized workforce has been CEO Jack Dorsey's dream for several years.
As a result, Twitter may have a clearer picture than most of its future plans. The company already had plans to locate pay based on where employees live and has started renting office space in San Francisco - 100,000 square feet to be precise.
Even before the Bay Area was hit by the pandemic, some managers on Twitter had started working from home and testing virtual meetings, according to a recent Washington Post report.
Elsewhere on Twitter, teams are working to make video meetings more seamless; For example, using hand signals when they have something to say or need to log out and inventing new phrases like "ELMO" - short for "Enough! Let's move on" - help get meetings going again, the Post said.
Google doesn't require employees to return to the office by July 2021.
Google's offices in Chelsea, New York. Noam Galai / Getty Images
Google confirmed in July that its employees won't have to return to the office until next summer to help workers with school-age children who may not return to personal school.
The company has made other changes to help working parents, most notably by adding an extra eight weeks to its care leave policy: Google employees are now given a total of 14 weeks that can be split every hour.
In addition, Google offered its employees $ 1,000 to help them set up home offices.
Facebook has given employees $ 2,000 in rewards to help them set up home offices.
Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Jeff Chiu / AP
Facebook has announced that employees may continue to work remotely through June 2021, but many may choose to do so on a permanent basis. However, they are likely to take a wage cut starting January if they move to a cheaper area than the Bay Area, according to the New York Times.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, said in May that he expects 50% of the company's workforce to be completely isolated within the next decade.
Given that employees won't be returning to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park anytime soon, the company has postponed some of its on-campus employee perks to allow work from home. The company announced in August that it is providing employees with an additional $ 1,000 grant to set up a home office in addition to the $ 1,000 work from home bonus granted in March.
Facebook also plans to help working parents, including offering 10 weeks of paid vacation to employees who unexpectedly need to care for a child or relative.
Additionally, Facebook plans to give all employees high marks for their performance reviews in 2020, which usually translates into bonuses, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Amazon offers generous benefits to its parents.
Amazon headquarters in Seattle. John Moore / Getty Images
Amazon announced in July that employees can continue to work remotely through January 8, 2021, provided that their work can be effectively done from home.
For those employees who choose to come into the office, however, Amazon has implemented security procedures like physical distancing, increased cleaning, and temperature checks. The company offers face coverings and hand sanitizer, a spokesman told Business Insider in July.
In response to a pandemic, Amazon has also introduced new employee benefits. The company recently started offering discounts on tutoring and subsidizing substitute childcare for full- and part-time employees of Amazon and Whole Foods up to 10 days a month. According to Amazon, Amazon covers more than 90% of the costs.
While many tech companies appear to be rethinking the future of the physical office, Amazon has continued its expansion plans - but not at its Seattle headquarters. The company recently announced a $ 1.4 billion investment to expand its physical offices in six U.S. cities and hire 3,500 new employees to report at these hubs.
Salesforce lets employees work from home until August 2021.
The Salesforce Tower in New York City. Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Earlier this year, Salesforce wrote a 21-page guide that is available to anyone who wants to know how to safely reopen an office. The plan is to rethink some materials in the office, add glass partitions, and encourage social distancing in elevators as well.
While Salesforce reopens some offices in Canada, Europe and Asia, all employees can continue working from home until August 2021.
Salesforce also rolled out new perks for parents during the pandemic. The company announced in August that parents now have up to six weeks off and Salesforce will also offer subsidized substitute childcare: Employees can be reimbursed up to $ 100 per day for five days a month through January 2021.
Slack employees can work remotely permanently if they want.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Slack announced in June that it would give its employees the option to work remotely forever and plans to hire more employees who will be permanently removed.
Slack has also postponed the reopening date of the office and expects the office to look "very different" in the future: "fewer amenities like lunches and coffee bars, less focus on face-to-face meetings with colleagues and more options for targeted individual work."
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said the company will not "go back to what we were" after the pandemic.
The visitor center at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California. Eric Risberg / AP
While some Apple employees have been reporting in the company's offices for months, others have worked remotely - and Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said it was a successful experiment for the company.
"There are some things that work really well virtually," Cook said in an interview at Atlantic Festival last month, but working remotely is "not like being together physically."
In a July interview with Bloomberg, Cook said Apple employees will be able to continue working from home until early 2021. "To go beyond that, it depends on success with a vaccine, success with therapeutics," and other factors, Cook told Bloomberg.
Apple's offices will function like an accordion, he told Bloomberg, so they can be opened and closed based on virus incident data.
According to reports, Microsoft will allow its 150,000 employees to work from home at least temporarily.
Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Stephen Brashear
According to an internal memo from The Verge that The Verge received this month, employees at what Microsoft calls a "hybrid workstation" only need to report to the office for half the week. If approved by a manager, some employees are allowed to work and move from home permanently. If they do, however, they will have to quit their jobs in the Microsoft office.
However, some employees are unable to work remotely, reports The Verge. If an employee is working in Microsoft's hardware department or in a personal training session, they must report to the office.
Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, says the company's offices won't reopen until the majority of people are vaccinated.
Netflix headquarters in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello / AP
In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, Hastings said he saw no benefits of working remotely.
"No. I don't see any positive results," Hastings told the Journal. "It is purely negative not to be able to get together personally, especially internationally. I was very impressed by the victims of the people."
Hastings said staff will not return to the office until there is a vaccine - likely six months after a vaccine is widely used or when "the majority of people are vaccinated".
Going forward, Hastings expects the corporate world to shift to a four-day work week, with employees reporting in the office for four days and working remotely on the fifth day.
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