Facebook has a history of either copying or acquiring their competitors. This isn’t meant to be a slight; it’s smart. Facebook has the war chest, talent and billions of global visitors to its platforms. There’s no need for them to keep reinventing the wheel.
It didn’t come as a surprise when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg copied Jack Dorsey, the dual CEO of Twitter and Square. Dorsey previously announced that he’d allow his employees to continue working from home “forever.” Dorsey said, “We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive.”
On the heels of Dorsey’s announcement, Facebook said this week that it would permit its employees to work remotely too. Zuckerberg isn’t known for being warm and cuddly. He’s viewed as a brilliant and tough business person. He clearly sees the trend and benefits of allowing employees to work from home and jumped on the bandwagon. The massive, forced remote-work experiment made by major corporations, during the pandemic, proved a great success. The workers didn’t have to be subjected to long, time-wasting commutes. They were able to take care of and teach their children, as their schools closed, and available to help sick or needy family members.
Companies recognize that their costs will appreciably drop if they’re no longer required to lease pricy real estate in big, overcrowded cities that have high tax rates. They also understand, from a public relations standpoint, that less people driving or taking busses to and from work cuts down on pollution and saves the environment. We’ve all seen by now the before Covid-19 and after photos of cities showing the improvement of the air quality.
Zuckerberg anticipates that a large percentage of his people will work remotely and said, “We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale.” While this sounds noble and magnanimous, there’s an underlying threat to workers.
At first blush, Facebook, Twitter, Square and other employees who’ve been offered the chance to work remotely will be delighted that they don’t have to commute, deal with annoying co-workers, endless in-person meetings and their bosses glaring at them.
Some will say that it’s not worthwhile to live in San Francisco, Silicon Valley or other cities where rentals and houses cost a fortune. The taxes and cost of living are also too high. Many will leave the cities and move to places that offer more affordable housing, along with a better quality and higher standard of living. This can be boom for many suburbs and warm, sunny low-tax states and a detriment to the cities that throngs of people escape from.
Here’s the Facebook catch: employees will have to tell their boss if they move to a different location. According to Zuckerberg, those who flee to lower-cost cities “may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations.” He ominously added, “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.”
It’s becoming clear that the “gift” of remote work may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let’s face facts, Zuckerburg and Dorsey didn’t become multimillionaires because they’re nice. They are sharp, aggressive, genius wolves dressed in T-shirts, jeans and hoodies. They know that a person can work from home in San Francisco, North Dakota, Iowa, Utah, England or India. It’s been proven that the available technology, such as Zoom videos, Slack and other products, make it easy to work from anywhere in the world and seamlessly connect with co-workers and managers.
Zuckerberg can now scout for talent all over the country and world. This could be the worst trend for workers, as CEOs arbitrage the best, cheapest job seekers globally. Facebook will source job applicants who possess all of the right skills and experience and live in lower-cost places and pay them less money then they’d receive working in San Francisco. Dorsey was upfront about this stating, “We can get talent anywhere. There’s a lot of folks out there that do not want to move to San Francisco. They feel comfortable working in a much smaller office or just home.”
This will cause a ripple of serious repercussions. Salaries for workers in San Francisco and other large cities may fall due to the introduction of job seekers that weren’t previously considered. Compensation may also be suppressed due to the overhang of over 39 million Americans who are out of work.
It’s also telling that Facebook just launched a new group video chat product, Messenger Rooms.This looks like it’s specifically designed to compete against Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Conveniently, Facebook’s own employees can create a video chat room and invite up to 50 people to join a video call. It will make it easier for their remote workers and also steal market share from Zoom, which has become the Covid-19 breakout success story.
A large number of companies, including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow and others have all announced that they’ll extend their work-from-home programs. They most likely will follow Zuckerberg and Dorsey’s lead by seeking out talent that live in lower-cost places, so they can bring down their costs. In light of the economic hit companies have taken due to the effects of Covid-19, saving money has become a top priority.
On the flip side, there is some positive news. Job seekers will have more opportunities—albeit along with greater competition—as they can apply to jobs anywhere in the United States. If you see a job advertisement for a position outside of where you reside, feel free to submit your résumé. The odds are that most companies will adopt this remote-work strategy and consider candidates from various locations. This trend will free you from being relegated to only applying to jobs within commuting distance.
This power move by Zuckerberg could be the biggest game changer for the job market coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.