Despite his hopes of an eventual Metaverse, Zuckerberg seems to be looking for his employees to stay within his sight—for now.
Two insiders at the company formerly known as Facebook (and even more formerly known as The Facebook, if you take The Social Network’s word for it), told Business Insider that Meta hiring managers are no longer allowed to label jobs as “remote.” Internal applications for working remotely or relocating to another office have also been put on hold, a source said.
A spokesperson from Meta told Fortune that such reports are “misleading,” since the social media behemoth plans to make it a temporary measure.
“We remain committed to remote work,” they said. “We’ve merely temporarily paused new remote work applications as leaders complete the restructuring work that Mark announced earlier this month.”
In Meta’s Year of Efficiency memo for 2023, Zuckerberg announced they’d be restructuring so as to flatten the company, reduce hiring, and stop working on low priority projects. It was a long-time coming—in July, he warned staff in a memo that he would be “turning up the heat” to weed out underperformers. And in November, he issued mass layoffs, which he attributed to over-estimating the longevity of the pandemic’s e-commerce boom.
As he became more focused on the bottom line, Zuckerberg has seemingly grown more lukewarm towards remote work. It’s a contrast from the more lenient remote view he held at the beginning of the pandemic, when he declared in a Facebook post that the company could have half of its employees working remotely over the next five to 10 years and touted some of the benefits of remote work (including a shortened commute and broader talent pool). But even then, doubts about straying too far from the multi-million dollar investments known as the office rippled below the surface, as Zuckerberg also wrote that remote work could blur the boundaries between work and home and create a lack of community, especially for new hires.
While he hasn’t issued return-to-office mandates like fellow big tech names Apple or Twitter, Zuckerberg has more recently been prodding employees to get back their high-rise sandboxes with greater urgency than in the past.
Pushing the benefits of working a hybrid schedule, he said in an updated memo on the Year of Efficiency this month that engineers who worked in-person some of the time “performed better on average than people who joined remotely,” adding that he believed building trust was easier in person—something he says is important when it comes to effective work. He maintained that Meta was still “committed to distributed work,” while encouraging workers to find opportunities to be with colleagues in person.
As the company braces for a second round of layoffs, the future of working from home for its employees remains uncertain but not worth panicking about yet, as the ship is not fully in-person for Metamates.