indica News Bureau-
Facebook is canceling gatherings of more than 50 people through June 2021 and taking a slow approach to letting employees return to the office, as the social network looks toward the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
The news comes two days after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a six-point outline of what the state will consider before it slowly re-opens businesses, schools and other daily activities. The six points include the ability for widespread testing across the state and the creation of a data-tracking system that would tell officials whether the state would have to reinstate a stay-at-home order.
It also follows Facebook’s decision in late February to cancel this year’s F8 developer conference, which was set for May 5-6 in San Jose, California. (Last year’s event had about 5,000 attendees.)
“Guidance from health experts is that it won’t be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said some of the events that Facebook had planned will be moved online.
The social network is requiring most employees to work from home through May, with the option to continue doing so through the summer. He said the “vast majority” of Facebook workers will be required to work from home through at least the end of May, while those with critical jobs that can’t be done remotely will be able to return to the office. “Overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time,” Zuckerberg said.
If employees don’t feel comfortable coming back to the office, even when the moratorium has been lifted, Zuckerberg said they can work from home through the end of summer.
“When society does eventually start re-opening, it will have to open slowly in staggered waves to make sure that the people who are returning to work can do so safely and that we minimize the possibility of future outbreaks,” he added
Facebook had about 45,000 employees as of December 2019. Facebook is headquartered in Menlo Park, California; the state has had a stay-at-home order since March 19. While the order was supposed to lift in early May, it is unclear whether it will be extended.
Facebook’s stock has risen 19% since March 16, when six Bay Area counties issued shelter-in-place orders. (The state of California followed suit three days later.) Zuckerberg is worth $64.5 billion as of 3 pm ET Thursday, making him the world’s sixth-richest person, according to Forbes’ Real-Time rankings.
Some employees who cannot work remotely will return sooner, he said. That includes content moderators who work on sensitive subjects like terrorism and suicide, and engineers working on complex hardware.
Zuckerberg said when larger groups of employees do return to Facebook’s offices, they will do so in staggered waves, to keep everyone safe and reduce the chance of further outbreaks.
The company also extended its ban on business travel through June.
Tech companies were among the first big employers to cancel events and move to remote work in early March.