Company also extends business travel ban, continues requiring employees to work from home
Facebook is canceling all large in-person events that would have had 50 or more people through June 2021 in a move that echoes a similar decision by Microsoft earlier this month in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Lowdown: While other tech companies are casting a tentative eye toward the fall for holding such events, the social media giant is shutting things down for at least another year, though some will go online as virtual events, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post updating the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Details: In the post, Zuckerberg noted that health experts have said that “it won’t be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while,” guidance that fueled the decision. For Facebook, that could include such major events as its huge F8 conference, which typically runs in the spring. The latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak is the company’s Oculus Connect 7 conference, a key show in the emerging virtual reality (VR) world that now will be a digital event.
As it did with F8, which also went virtual, Facebook is giving $500,000 to San Jose, California, which was to host the Oculus event, to help cover the revenue the city is losing.
Zuckerberg also wrote that the company is extending its ban on business travel through June of this year and will require those employees who can to work from home through May. Those who need to work from home to care for children or for some other reason can do so through at least the summer.
The Impact: Earlier this month, Microsoft said that it was canceling all in-person events through at least the end of the year and possibly the end of its fiscal year, which would be June 2021. Microsoft and Facebook carry a lot of weight in the tech industry and could influence the decisions of other vendors and channel players regarding live events as the pandemic plays out and the fall approaches. A survey by The 2112 Group found that 42% of channel leaders said their companies would resume live events in the fall when social distancing measures are expected to lift.
The Buzz: “We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities,” Zuckerberg wrote. “A small percent of our critical employees who can’t work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time. … Most Facebook employees are fortunate to be able to work productively from home, so we feel a responsibility to allow people who don’t have this flexibility to access shared public resources first. I hope this helps contain the spread of COVID-19 so we can keep our communities safe and get back up and running again soon.”