Above every work from home announcement looms a larger truth about the modern workplace: Not everyone can work from home. Accordingly, announcements about the recommendation that employees work remotely are often slapped with a similarly worded stipulation: Employees should work at home … “if able.”
Employees that are able to work from home fluctuate from company to company, but can frequently exclude delivery and security workers, content moderators, support staff, and other hourly or contract workers.
Many tech companies, seemingly in anticipation of this, have announced policies that attempt to accommodate workers unable to work from home as the companies make global and regional work from home recommendations.
For any company, the decision to move employees to online and remote work is hardly a light one. Recommendations to work from home arrive within the context of public calls for social distancing, the practice of staying at least three feet away from other people and avoiding crowds.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided its own resources for businesses and employers in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, the official term for the disease caused by the virus. Though it does not explicitly call for mandated remote work, its interim guidelines advocate for actively sick employees to stay home, for routine workplace cleaning, and for advising employees to follow particular steps before traveling.
As more tech companies recommend remote work as the coronavirus spreads, here’s a look at their current policies.
Who can WFH: From Mar. 9 to 13, employees in “areas with the greatest density of infections,” which Bloomberg News reports as the Santa Clara Valley, the Elk Grove, Calif., area, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, and Switzerland, have received recommendations to work from home. According to Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees, in a memo, to “please feel free to work remotely if your job allows.” (Mashable awaits direct response from Apple representatives.)
Who can’t: Per Bloomberg, Cook said hourly workers in impacted offices will “continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations.”
Who can WFH: According to Fast Company, Facebook has asked all of its employees in Seattle, totaling near 5,000, to work from home until Mar. 31. Additionally, Axios reports that Facebook is also recommending that “Bay Area employees and contingent staff” work from home, starting Mar. 9.
Who can’t: In an email to Mashable, a Facebook representative listed the following policies designed to support its employees’ “diverse business needs” in the midst of its work from home recommendation:
We will continue to pay our contingent workers who cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements during voluntary work from home, if an office is closed, or when they are sick.
We’ve expanded our back-up childcare benefit to help parents while they work from home.
For the month(s) they are impacted by work from home policies, our employees will be reimbursed for internet costs.
Who can WFH: An Amazon spokesperson told Mashable in an email it is recommended that employees who are able to work from home in Seattle/Bellevue, the Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, Madrid, and Italy do so until the end of March.
Who can’t: In a statement to Axios, Amazon said: “We will continue to pay all hourly employees that support our campus in Seattle and Bellevue – from food service, to security guards to janitorial staff – during the time our employees are asked to work from home. In addition, we will subsidize one month of rent for the local small businesses that operate inside our owned buildings to help support them during this period.”
Who can WFH: Google has asked employees able to work from home in Washington state to do so, according to GeekWire. (Mashable awaits direct response from Google representatives.)
Who can’t: In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, wrote: “As we make these changes, we have been making sure that our hourly service vendor workers in our extended workforce who are affected by reduced work schedules are compensated for the time they would have worked.”
Who can WFH: In a company statement posted on its website, Twitter announced that it was “strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able.”
Additionally, in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, working from home will be mandatory.
Who can’t: In a statement emailed to Mashable, a Twitter spokesperson said the following with respect to hourly workers during the company’s work from home recommendation: “We recognize that working from home is not ideal for some job functions. For those employees who prefer or need to come into the offices, they will remain open for business. For contractors and hourly workers who are not able to perform their responsibilities from home, Twitter will continue to pay their labor costs to cover standard working hours while Twitter’s WFH guidance and/or travel restrictions related to their assigned office are in effect. All employees, including hourly workers, will receive reimbursement toward their home office set up expenses, and we are working with our vendors to ensure our contractors’ WFH needs are met as well.”
Who can WFH: At Intel, working from home is currently optional “for those who are able to effectively do their work remotely and wish to do so,” according to an email from an Intel representative sent to Mashable.
Who can’t: Intel has yet to respond to request for comment on any restrictions to this recommendation. We will update this post when we get a response.
Who can WFH: In a statement emailed to Mashable, a Microsoft representative said that employees in the Puget Sound region, San Francisco Bay Area, and New York/New Jersey area have received recommendations to work from home until Mar. 25. Additionally, Microsoft said “across the globe we’ve given employees recommendations on working from home based on the situation locally.”
Who can’t: In a blog post, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, wrote: “We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees. As a result, we’ve decided that Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs. This is independent of whether their full services are needed.”
Who can WFH: “All employees” based in Washington state, California, and New York have been “strongly encouraged” to work remotely for the month of March, per a company statement emailed to Mashable by a Salesforce representative.
Who can’t: Salesforce has yet to respond to request for comment on any restrictions to this recommendation. We will update when we get a response.
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