COVID vaccines are slowly rolling out around America, but no one is quite sure what the tech industry's "return to the office" tipping point will be after nearly a year of working from home.
While companies like Dropbox and Shopify said they won’t ask employees to return to the office post-pandemic, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings called working from home a “pure negative” and expects workers to return to the office as soon as possible. Other companies like Facebook and Microsoft are trying out the increasingly popular “hybrid” model, which combines in-office and remote work.
We compiled the hiring data from the past year for companies returning to the office, shifting to hybrid work, and remaining remote, based on the Information’s ‘Return to the Office Tracker.’
Big Tech plans a return to the office as job listings fluctuate
Netflix counts 8,000 employees, many of which will be expected to return to the office at least four days a week once a majority of staff gets vaccinated. However, engineers will abide by a different set of rules. According to a Netflix job listing, “Corporate Engineering is moving in the direction of supporting long-term remote employees, and we’d love for you to help us be great at this.”
Apple, which counts 147,000 employees, is encouraging a return to the office this year. “CEO Tim Cook has said he was surprised by how effective working remotely has been but finds virtual interactions are not as conducive to creativity,” the Information reports.
Google’s 132,121 full-time employees will work from home until September. CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google and Alphabet will require employees to return to the office at least three days a week, starting this fall.
Job listings at all three companies were shrinking through the spring, as the pandemic set in. But over the last six months, they’ve rebounded. Google’s openings have increased by 28%, while Netflix’s listings have grown by 24%. Apple’s open positions have increased by 15% since October.
Companies like Uber and Twitter shift to hybrid work and larger teams
Microsoft told its 166,475-member staff it will enact a flexible mix of remote and in-office work no earlier than July. Uber plans to have its 20,000 employees work in the office for a few days a week whenever it becomes safe to do so. Over half of Uber’s international offices have partially reopened.
Zillow’s 5,500 employees’ work policies will vary based on their job titles. Engineers, product managers, and data scientists will have the option to work remote with quarterly in-office meetings. The Sales and marketing teams will be required to work in the office at least once every other week or when requested by their managers.
Most of Facebook’s 56,600 employees will work from home until July, at least. The US offices will not fully reopen until vaccination is accessible for everyone. Upon reopening, managers and senior employees in select parts of the company will be able to apply for permanent remote work. Mid and lower level employees may get to work from home, depending on job description. According to the Information, Facebook plans to establish “long-term remote engineering hubs” in several US cities for employees to collaborate and conduct meetings.
Pinterest’s 2,400 employees will reopen its offices in stages. Some people will not be required to return, depending on job title. Last August, as the company predicted a long-term shift to remote work, Pinterest canceled an upcoming lease on new office space in San Francisco.
Twitter’s international workforce, 5,400-strong, can permanently work remote. CEO Jack Dorsey’s other company, Square, will offer the same choice for its 3,835 employees. Other companies switching to hybrid models include Snap, Robinhood, Wish, Twilio, Atlassian, and Okta.
Job listings for companies embracing hybrid work models have soared over the last six months. Twitter’s job listings surged 146%. Pinterest’s listings have grown by 89%. Zillow’s openings are up by 66%. Uber’s job listings increased by 193% from August to mid-January.
Growth varies for remote workforces
Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke announced that it will be “digital by default.” The company launched an online store where its 5,000 employees can spend an allowance on office equipment. In the future, Shopify will open remote hubs across major cities for employee collaboration.
Dropbox announced that remote work will be the primary option for its 2,500 employees, while its global offices will remain open for optional meetings. Affirm will enact a similar strategy as a primarily remote company with offices open for its 900-plus workforce to use as they see fit. Cameo’s 200 employees will work fully remote for the foreseeable future. Last March, the young startup canceled plans to sign an office lease in Chicago.
Job listings vary for these companies. Affirm’s openings have shot up by 203% since July, while Dropbox’s listings have dropped by 38%. Cameo doesn’t seem to have plans to grow its relatively small staff, opting for a lean remote team with job listings down 87%.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.