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Facebook, Uber and Microsoft plan to start bringing employees back to offices

Some offices will reopen on March 29

Facebook is planning to start its return to face-to-face work in May, after more than a year working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bloomberg. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced remote work plans near the start of the pandemic that promised that about half of his employees could work remotely in the next five to 10 years, but until then, face-to-face work, at least in a capacity limited, is in the immediate future of the company.

Facebook is reopening its Bay Area offices – including its headquarters in Menlo Park – but capping capacity at 10 percent to start. The company expects that its largest offices will not reach 50% capacity by September, Bloomberg writes. In addition to limiting the number of people working nearby, Facebook also plans to require masks, social distance and weekly COVID-19 tests.

Uber hopes to get back to personal work even earlier. The ride-sharing company announced that it will reopen its headquarters in Mission Bay, San Francisco, on March 29, with a limited capacity of 20 percent, according to Reuters. Uber plans to follow COVID-19 restrictions similar to Facebook’s, requiring facial coverings, regular cleaning and asking employees with sick family members to stay at home. Prior to this reopening plan, Uber allowed its employees to work from home until mid-September 2021.

Other technology companies inside and outside California are taking a more mixed approach (or they just haven’t announced plans yet). Twitter took a big step and made homework indefinitely an option for all employees at the beginning of the pandemic. The company does not have a set date for the reopening of its offices, however, “it will be gradual, office by office, and with a 20 percent capacity to start,” a Twitter spokesman told The Verge.

Google and Microsoft are looking at hybrid working models in the future, with Microsoft starting by reopening its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, on March 29. The company also expects part-time work from home to be a standard for all office workers. Google’s plans are less certain, and the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge, but in 2020, it said employees could work from home by September 2021 and would explore requiring employees to work just three days per week in person.

Apple did not respond to a request to expand its plans to return to personal work, but the company reportedly ordered some employees to return to their offices as early as May 2020.

There are still risks involved in working indoors with other people, and being vaccinated does not guarantee that the virus will not be transmitted. But as companies return to “normal” working conditions that will seem post-pandemic, it seems certain that remote work will not disappear entirely anytime soon.

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