Facebook is going remote and, if Mark Zuckerberg has his way, so are you.
In a live-streamed talk Thursday aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at his employees, the CEO announced his plan to make Facebook a more remote-work friendly company. Notably, Zuckerberg sees the changes wrought by the coronavirus as a business opportunity.
Who better, after all, to build and sell remote-working tools and services than the company that brought us such all-time hits as its enterprise-collaboration tool Workplace, Portal video-chat devices, and the Oculus VR headset? No one, at least according to Zuckerberg.
“Moving to more remote work, I think, will give us the opportunity to advance some of the important future technology that we’re working on,” observed Zuckerberg. “A lot of what we build are things that help people communicate and that give people a feeling of connection and presence even when you can’t be together in person.”
The potential financial benefit of a global remote-first workforce is already starting to manifest for Facebook. Zuckerberg said that, at present, its Workplace enterprise service has five million paid subscribers — two million of which have joined “since this COVID period began.”
That, plus a “growing demand for VR-powered training and collaboration,” as Zuckerberg noted, equal dollar signs for a company like Facebook, which has invested billions in virtual reality.
“Here in 2020,” observed the CEO, “it’s a lot easier to move bits around than atoms.”
To be sure, Facebook is also making moves to allow more of its employees to work remotely. While at first this posture is obviously mandated by the coronavirus, Zuckerberg explained that, in the future, Facebook will grant certain high-performing employees the ability to request to work remotely forever.
“This is gonna be something that we’re dealing with for some time,” Zuckerberg said of the coronavirus and associated remote-work requirements.
Fortunately for him, and for Facebook shareholders, that appears to suit the CEO just fine.