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Y'all ready to get back to the office this October, Facebook tells staff in the US

Sure, you can apply to work from home in the middle of nowhere, just don't expect Silicon Valley pay

Facebook, like other Silicon Valley mega-corps, is ready to get its workers back in the office, setting October as the time when business returns somewhat to normal.

Last week Tim Cook told Apple staffers that, from September, they should expect to work at least three days a week in the office – well, it did spend US$5bn on a new HQ in California, would be a shame to waste it – and Google too has set that month for a return to office work.

Now Facebook is getting with the program: from around September-October, US employees will be expected to come into the office for at least half the week unless they are able to get permission to continue working from home full-time.

"Facebook’s office will be more flexible for those expected to return — guidance is to be in the office at least half the time," a spokesperson for the social network told The Register on Wednesday.

"The company is on track to open most of its US offices at 50 per cent capacity by early September, and likely reopening fully in October. The company has several offices already open in EMEA and APAC, and hopes to open more in those regions at 50 per cent capacity towards the end of 2021."

From next week, Facebook staffers can apply to continue working from home if their job can be done remotely. There's a kicker: don't expect Silicon Valley money if you're now living in cheaper areas of the world. Salaries will be adjusted to fit your locale.

There's also some interesting geo-opportunities in Facebook's announcement. Previously only people in tech and recruitment roles could move country and work remotely, though from next week that option will be open to all employees moving from the US to Canada, and from Europe to post-Brexit UK — and salary adjustments will be made. Staff must successfully apply for permission to make such a move.

To ease the return to in-office work, the social network's staff can request up to 20 days in which they can work remotely, tasks permitting. This offer extends to the end of the year.

"Facebook recognizes that expanding flexibility is a big step, and will learn and iterate as needed to best support the health of the community, teams, and individuals working there," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees in an internal memo this week. "Facebook is taking a collaborative approach of building together thoughtfully, learning and iterating as they go."

The end of the sweatpants

Generally speaking from here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the past year has demonstrated that, yes, plenty of people can indeed work from home in a coronavirus pandemic. Some prefer to toil away in the spare bedroom, some are losing their minds stuck inside their apartments for most of the day, some like the office space but hate the commute ... whatever their stance and your's, millions were able to largely get through the pandemic by doing their programming, writing, sales, operations, admin, and what have you, remotely.

Now with vaccination rates soaring (magnetism aside) and COVID-19 cases dropping, tech giants with expensive campuses and valuable real estate in the Golden State, and beyond, are looking to get staff back on site. Last month, Google got permission to build a mega-campus in San Jose.

Not everyone is on the same page. Oracle and Tesla have shifted headquarters to Texas, and Twitter said its workers can remain remote "forever" if they want to be. In February, Salesforce's Chief People Officer Brent Hyde declared "the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks" in plush office spaces. ®

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