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Half of Facebook’s 45,000 employees will work from home within a decade, Mark Zuckerberg has said, as the tech giant became the biggest of a growing wave of companies to move to permanent remote working.
Mr Zuckerberg predicted that the move would mean thousands of his staff leaving tech hubs like Silicon Valley and London. He said staff would be paid according to the cost of living, raising the prospect of significant pay cuts for those who seek out cheaper climbs.
It came as other major companies told employees not to expect to return to the office for months to come. Royal Bank of Scotland said 50,000 staff can work from home for the next four months and Spotify said its workforce could do so for the rest of the year.
Tech companies Twitter, Shopify and Coinbase have all told staff this month that working from home will become the default forever, with a minority commuting to work.
“It’s possible that in five to 10 years about 50pc of our people could be working remotely,” Mr Zuckerberg told staff yesterday. He said that the company would begin “aggressively opening up remote hiring” immediately, starting in the US but moving worldwide.
Mr Zuckerberg said that the vast majority of existing employees who had expressed interest in working remotely said they expected to move, either to other cities or to rural areas.
“If you live in a location where cost of living is dramatically lower, salaries tend to be lower, even though you can have a better quality of life. Your salary will be adjusted if you change location,” he said, promising “severe ramifications” for those who lie about where they are living.
Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters are based in the sixth-most expensive county in the United States, where average salaries are roughly double the national average. The majority of its 2,000 staff in the UK work in central London, with an average salary of around £117,000.
Mr Zuckerberg said there were major advantages to companies embracing remote working, saying that it would spread economic opportunities, improve diversity and be better for the environment.
“I’d rather employees were teleporting around using video chat than sitting in traffic and polluting the environment,” he said. He added that ultimately he expects more staff to attend meetings in virtual reality.
However, he said the move was not motivated by cost savings, and that it was unlikely to dramatically reduce Facebook’s spending. He said staff would have to be compensated for buying high-quality internet connections and equipment, and would travel more, to attend occasional office events.
Facebook expects its headquarters to be a quarter full at the end of this year. He said senior engineering staff and high-performing workers would be the first to be offered permanent working from home.