Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters will remain largely empty permanently. Source: Chris Wattie/Reuters


In the aftermath of COVID-19, companies anticipate a transition to a longterm work-from-home structure in the coming weeks and years. 48% of decision-making executives say their top concerns in returning to business as usual are the health and safety of employees, according to a Salesforce survey. In a recent Gallup poll, only 25% of respondents currently working from home say they are eager to return to work. These reasons, along with other factors, are driving a remote approach for at least the near future.

Tech companies have led the switch to permanently working from home. Facebook announced Thursday that up to half of the company would be working from home in the next decade. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a similar announcement last week for the company and Square, a payments company he also runs. The ability to work remotely would allow employees to live in more affordable areas, with one caveat: salaries could potentially decrease without the financial burden of the local housing market.

Not everyone in Silicon Valley is as enthusiastic to make the same decision, as Sundar Pichai holds out on making such a commitment. The Google and Alphabet CEO is concerned about potential lapses in collaboration down the road. He plans to continue new campus construction and renovations, saying, “In all scenarios, I expect us to need physical spaces to get people together, absolutely.”

Although the work-from-home model can work for tech companies, many other professions, including police, first responders, doctors, utility workers, and more, simply do not have the option to do so. Ian Lee, a professor at Carleton University, told the Ottawa Sun companies should avoid “a gross generalization” about which way their employees work best, especially because certain jobs require the socialization that doesn’t come with remote work. Concerns about working from home abound, from internet security and other technical issues to mental health and personal care. The possibility of hiring anyone around the world – while saving even more money with lower salaries – could lead companies to take advantage of wage gaps.


As coronavirus crisis pushes more to work from home, some see an end to ‘office centricity’ – Yahoo! Finance – 5/23/2020
On Friday, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian told Yahoo Finance that commercial real estate wasn’t entirely going away, but would “just be reinvented.” What that means is more companies will use their office space to facilitate certain activities, but the center of gravity will be wherever the worker can best do their jobs. […] While working remotely will be key, “companies are just going to have to be really mindful and thoughtful about the cultures they build going forward because they’re going to have to work extra hard to create…social dynamics. But I think it can happen,” Ohanian added.

The corporate office as we know it is dead — long live the ‘dynamic’ workplace, says a CEO who’s been experimenting with this new concept for a year – Business Insider – 5/22/2020
“The workplace we all know is a thing of the past,” McKinnon told Business Insider. […] “The future of work isn’t going to be fully remote or distributed,” he said. “It is going to be dynamic.” “Dynamic work” isn’t just about allowing employees to work from home all the time or a couple times a week, he said. It’s also providing employees with the same benefits office workers are accustomed to, like fitness centers, volunteer opportunities, and cultural experiences.

Could Remote Work Backfire for Minorities? – The Information – 5/23/2020
But as tech companies like Twitter, Coinbase, Shopify and, this week, Facebook announce they are going to embrace remote work wholeheartedly, I’m worried the moves will backfire and set back diversity and inclusiveness. Because in many cases, remote work is being treated as a privilege you can apply for. And despite the good intentions, imposing a new workplace benefit has historically helped those who know how to work the system. Another concern: Companies haven’t trained managers to treat remote and in-person employees equally.

As employee monitoring extends to workers’ homes and health, some see civil rights threat – ABC News – 5/23/2020
However, in addition to being monitored for productivity, privacy advocates say Mark and the estimated 62% of Americans now working from home during the pandemic, face other concerns as more employers adopt surveillance technology to keep tabs on remote workers. Among some concerns, they say, is the intrusion of monitoring technology into private homes and even into employees’ health information.


Andrew Wilkinson on Twitter, 5/23/2020: That’s an odd example. Remote work empowers people all over the world to access employment opportunities and pay they could never have. It’s like comparing locally made artisan products vs. factory made in developing countries. Yes, some magic lost. But net benefit is huge.

Maneet Ahuja on Twitter, 5/23/2020: “I think people miss the office. There’s a lot of important dynamics that happen in the office that maybe have to do with work or more importantly personal lives. I don’t think the office is gone. I think it becomes a mix (between office and remote work).” – @kirstenagreen

Derek Thompson on Twitter, 5/23/2020: The mag column I was writing in late feb before the world blew up was about how after years of over promises about the death of distance remote work was really, actually increasing. even had @ModeledBehavior links lined up. Column was junked bc the thesis became too obvious!

Jerry Gamblin on Twitter, 5/23/2020: Zuckerberg says that Facebook is “mostly going to rely on the honor code for this”—but not entirely. Facebook will check IP addresses to help detect people who lie about where they’re living.

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