LOS ANGELES - Speaking from an internal staff meeting that was livestreamed on his Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company will allow some of its employees to work from home permanently.
The company began encouraging many of its employees to work remotely in March, when COVID-19 cases began to rise in the Bay Area where the company’s headquarters are located.
Zuckerberg said he expects as much as half of all of Facebook’s 45,000 employees to work remotely within 10 years.
The new policy will initially impact workers in the U.S. and apply to new hires that are senior engineers first and then eventually to current employees who can apply with the company to work from home based on performance reviews.
Citing an internal survey done by the company, Zuckerberg said that at least 50 percent of workers are as productive at home as they were before.
“In terms of preferences and how people work going forward, about 20 percent of employees say that they were either extremely or very interested in full time remote work,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg’s announcement comes as the nation’s tech giants extended work-from-home policies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Twitter announced that it would allow its employees to choose to work from home indefinitely when the company reopens its offices as pandemic lockdown restrictions eventually ease.
"We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere," a Twitter spokesperson told Fox Business. "The past few months have proven we can make that work.“
Amazon and Microsoft have said they would allow many of their employees to work from home through October, and Google said it will allow its employees to work remotely for at least the rest of the year, according to Fox Business.
Amazon, which drew sharp criticism for firing an employee who led a walkout to demand greater coronavirus protection for workers, now says it is developing an internal lab that could potentially provide coronavirus tests for all employees, even those without symptoms. (Amazon says the employee in question was fired for violating social-distance guidelines and other infractions.)
While work-from-home policies are common among these tech giants, many other companies and positions do not offer the same luxury.
As state and federal leaders tussle over when and how fast to “reopen” the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, some corporations are taking the first steps toward bringing their employees back to work, which in many cases is easier said than done.
Automakers are offering to provide protective gear, frequently sanitize equipment, and to take worker temperatures to prevent anyone with a fever from entering factories. These steps, they say, have worked at repurposed factories now making medical equipment.
In line with White House guidelines announced last week, several states with Republican governors have begun restoring access to public spaces -- not just beaches and parks, but in states like Georgia, hair salons, gyms, bowling alleys, restaurants and movie theaters as well.
Health officials fear that such moves, if not carefully planned, could fuel a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Some companies that never closed offer a cautionary tale: Meat-packing plants across the Midwest have reported hundreds of coronavirus cases among their tightly quartered workforces. Several have shuttered in an attempt to stem the spread.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.