Facebook Plans to Start Hiring New Remote Workers by July, Expand Presence in More Cities

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Facebook will begin opening up its candidate pool to remote workers this summer, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday during an employee townhall livestreamed to the public on the social networking platform.

Currently, 95% of the company's employees are working in a remote capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, Zuckerberg says. He estimates half of the organization will continue to work remotely within the next five to 10 years. 

As part of that effort, the company will begin actively recruiting people for remote positions by early July, says vice president of global recruiting Miranda Kalinowski. These will primarily be for senior engineering roles and will occur in two phases, though she says the company hasn't identified how many new roles will open up by the summer.

First, Facebook will begin to hire in extended areas surrounding its main engineering sites, including the Bay Area, L.A., Seattle, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., Kalinowski tells CNBC Make It. This will extend the company's hiring pool to those in the surrounding metro areas, as well as neighboring mid-sized cities within a one- to four-hour commute from an office location. (A San Diego, Calif., resident may be considered for a remote position with the company's L.A. office, for example.)

The second phase will involve establishing a greater presence and hiring engineering talent in Atlanta, Dallas and Denver.

Kalinowski says the team hopes to tap into diverse talent pools in these areas, as well as recruit alumni from top computer science programs beyond the company's existing network.

Doing virtual recruiting for workers who will likely remain remote through their entire Facebook experience is something her team will have to approach with care, especially when it comes to translating the company's culture, often tied to its sprawling campus and in-office perks.

She adds Facebook's recruiting team is one of the most geographically distributed teams within the company.

Zuckerberg says Facebook's compensation policy, which pays workers market rate based on their location, will continue. According to Glassdoor, a software engineer in San Francisco earns an average base pay of $150,841 per year; a software engineer in Austin, meanwhile, earns an average salary of $134,681 per year.

With a newly blended remote and in-office workforce, the company will also have to consider hiring bias so candidates closer to a physical office, or those who live in a lower cost-of-living area, won't be given preferential treatment. 

It's yet to be determined whether these changes will impact Facebook's physical footprint — whether they'll scale down existing campuses or build new ones where remote workforces grow.

"We'll continue to revisit the needs of our offices on a regular basis," Kalinowski says.

The company, which announced in May that most employees would be able to work remotely through the end of the year, extended the flexible arrangement to eligible teams to continue working remotely full-time indefinitely.

Workers will be able to request a fully remote position if they meet certain criteria, including if they're in a more senior position, they've demonstrated "very strong" work performance in recent evaluations, they work on a team that is able to do prolonged remote work at scale and they have approval from their group leader. This won't include recent graduates. New hires in more senior roles may be eligible based on their previous work performance.

For existing employees, Zuckerberg says salaries will be adjusted if they permanently change locations following the remote-work announcement. Citing taxes and accounting purposes, he says workers will have to notify the company of their new location by January 1, 2021.

"We're mostly going to rely on honor code on this," he says and adds that the company will take certain precautions, such as checking VPN locations, to verify this information. "There will unfortunately have to be severe ramifications for people if they're not honest about this."

Zuckerberg expressed optimism about expanding remote hiring as a way to attract a more diverse talent pool beyond the scope of expensive cities. However, he acknowledged diversity and inclusion efforts will need to be a major consideration as new hiring processes roll out.

"One risk I want to make sure we're careful about: If we view remote work as an opportunity to engage more underrepresented folks ... and if remote work ends up being harder in the early phases before we really dial this in, I want to make sure we're not creating any disparity in how people can perform based on that."

Zuckerberg also recognized the need to be intentional to ensure both in-office and remote employees have equal opportunities for career advancement.

"This will change the culture in how we work long-term. I'm optimistic about this direction and want to make sure we move forward in measured way."

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