Facebook to reopen Menlo Park HQ and other Bay Area sites at 10% capacity starting May 10, and allow remote work until a month after offices reach 50% capacity (Roland Li/San Francisco Chronicle)


Facebook has set a Bay Area office reopening date: May 10.

The social media giant will open at 10% capacity starting at its Menlo Park headquarters, as long as health data continues to improve. Its Fremont offices are scheduled to reopen May 17, Sunnyvale on May 24 and its two downtown San Francisco towers on June 7.

Employees had been allowed to work from home until July 2, and will now be able to stay remote until one month after offices reach 50% capacity. That will likely be after Sept. 7 for large sites, Facebook said.

Facebook is also reopening offices in Seattle in April and also in the process of reopening offices in Asia.

The company will eliminate some of its key perks for health reasons: There will be no free food and no buses delivering workers to campus. There’s no timeline when those will return.

“As we return to the office, we have a number of protocols in place that include testing, physical distancing, wearing masks and other best practices. We continue to work with experts to ensure our return to office plans prioritize everyone’s health and safety,” said Chloe Meyere, a Facebook spokeswoman.

The company won’t require employees to get vaccinated to return to offices.

The absence of in-office meals could help local restaurants and shops recover. In San Francisco, Facebook leases all the office space at 181 Fremont, a major hub for its Instagram division, and nearby Park Tower in the Transbay neighborhood. It has 1.2 million square feet, enough space in pre-pandemic times for over 5,000 workers.

The area, along with the rest of downtown, has been devastated during the pandemic.

Facebook is also hiring some fully remote workers as some of the pandemic’s disruptions become permanent. The broader recruitment area will also help feed its voracious growth: The company had 58,604 global employees at the end of 2020, a 30% increase in one year.

“I think Facebook will be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale, and we’ve been working on a thoughtful and responsible plan to do this,” Zuckerberg wrote last May. “It lets us access talent pools outside of traditional tech hubs in big cities — and that should help spread economic opportunity much more widely around the country and world while also helping us build a more diverse company.”

He said half the company’s workers could be remote within a decade.

Facebook is one of the first large Bay Area companies to announce reopening plans after San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties improved to the state’s orange tier, allowing non-essential offices to reopen. San Francisco is restricting office occupancy to 25% of capacity.

SAP, the German software company, plans to reopen offices in the next few weeks, Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

Bret Taylor, Salesforce’s president, said the company would reopen offices “soon” during a talk on the Clubhouse app on Thursday. A spokeswoman for Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, said there isn’t currently a time frame.

Wells Fargo said most workers would continue to stay home until at least May 1.

Facebook has been one of tech’s biggest winners during the pandemic, with 2020 net income jumping to $29.1 billion, a 58% increase from the prior year. Unlike smaller tech companies that have cut office space and marketed sublease space, Facebook hasn’t reduced any of its Bay Area real estate despite remote work expansion plans.

The company has new offices opening this year in Burlingame for its Oculus virtual reality division and in Sunnyvale. It expanded last year in Fremont. Last August, Facebook leased 730,000 square feet in Manhattan near Penn Station.

Fellow tech giants Google and Amazon have also continued relentless expansion as business boomed during the pandemic. Google said it plans to spend over $1 billion on California real estate this year as part of its $7 billion U.S. growth. Google said employees can stay remote until September and hasn’t scheduled office reopening dates. Amazon bought a San Francisco site for $200 million, where it is proposing a new last-mile delivery station.

The industry faces obstacles to continued dominance. Congress, states and regulators are cracking down on big tech, filling numerous lawsuits alleging anti-trust behavior and other abuses, which the companies have denied.

On Thursday, Zuckerberg and the CEOs of Google and Twitter testified remotely in front of Congress on misinformation and tech’s role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The independent Facebook Oversight Board will decide on whether to permanently ban former President Donald Trump.

Roland Li is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: roland.li@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @rolandlisf

This content was originally published HERE


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