After coronavirus Shopify making majority of work remote

What Does Working Remotely Mean for the Planet?

After coronavirus Shopify making majority of work remote

In May 2020, Shopify announced that it was now a digital-by-default company. That means we’ll keep our offices closed until 2021, and after that, most employees will work remotely on a permanent basis. In the words of our CEO Tobi Lütke, “office centricity is over.”

As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.

— Tobi Lutke


Remote work: Employers are taking over our living spaces and passing on costs

After coronavirus Shopify making majority of work remote

As many office workers adapt to remote work, cities may undergo fundamental change if offices remain under-utilized. Who will benefit if working from home becomes the post-pandemic norm?

Employers argue they make considerable savings on real estate when workers shift from office to home work. However, these savings result from passing costs on to workers.

Unless employees are fully compensated, this could become a variant of what urban theorist Andy Merrifield calls parasitic capitalism, whereby corporate profits increasingly rely on extracting value from the public — and now personal — realm, rather than on generating new value.

The allure of remote work to employers

After three months of remote work, some companies are moving towards permanent home-based work: Shopify, for instance, has announced that its employees will continue to work from home after the pandemic.

Indeed, pre-coronavirus estimates suggest savings (for the employer) of about US$10,000 per year for each employee who works from home.

Though employers are backed by a chorus of remote work proselytizers, others note the loneliness, reduced productivity and inefficiencies of prolonged remote work.

Read more: How remote working can increase stress and reduce well-being

Whatever the personal and productivity impacts of remote work, the savings of US$10,000 per year are the employer’s. In effect, this represents an offloading of costs onto employees — a new type of enclosure.

In 16th-century Britain, powerful landowners expropriated common land from communities, often for the purpose of running lucrative sheep farms. Today, businesses Shopify appear to be expropriating their employee’s private living space.

As people work from home, employers are saving money while moving into the private spaces of their workers. (Piqsels)

The employee’s perspective

If working from home becomes permanent, employees will have to dedicate part of their private space to work. This requires purchasing desks, ergonomic chairs and office equipment.

It also means having private space dedicated to work: the space must be heated, cleaned, maintained and paid for. Permanent remote work cannot take place at the corner of a kitchen table peering into a laptop while perched on a stool.

How much will this cost employees?

That depends on many things, but for purposes of illustration, I have run some estimates for Montréal. The exercise is simple but important, since it brings these costs the realm of speculation into the realm of meaningful discussion.

Rental costs in Montréal and Westmount

Taking as a starting point 2019 rental values published by Canada’s Mortgage and Housing Corp., I estimate what it would cost to rent an apartment with one extra room in the city of Montréal and in its upmarket suburb, Westmount. Here’s the data:

CMHC rental values for three-bedroom plus apartments in 2019 in Montréal and Westmount. CMHC, Author provided

The CMHC does not report rental values for three-bedroom apartments; it only reports the average rental value for apartments of three bedrooms and more.

Obviously, the average rent for apartments with three bedrooms is less than the average rent for apartments with three bedrooms and more. I assume that if an employee moves from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom apartment, the increase in rent is 66 per cent of the increase in rent between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom-plus apartment.

The extra costs (and savings) an employee would incur working from home, and adding an extra room for work purposes, are presented below.

Transportation savings are modest — half the value of a monthly pass, because it’s assumed employees will still need to move around the city for some work purposes even while working from home.

Extra costs to employees of remote work. CMHC, Author provided

I made some assumptions here of a monthly cleaning service at $100 a month, $50 to $65 a month in extra utilities, the aforementioned public transit savings of 50 per cent of a monthly pass, and $1,000 a year in office and other equipment.

The total annual costs in the above figures come employees’ after-tax income. In Québec, the marginal tax rate for earnings of $50,000 and $150,000 a year are 40.5 per cent and 54.8 per cent respectively.

Given the costs presented in the above graph, in order to fully compensate employees for setting up and maintaining office space at home, the employer would need to raise employees’ pay by between $5,871 and $16,285. The lower number corresponds to a move from a one- to two-bedroom apartment in Montréal for an employee earning $50,000 — in other words, a net of $3,493 when taking into account the higher apartment rent.

The higher number corresponds to the same move in Westmount for an employee earning $150,000, or a $7,369 net. An alternative would be for the employer to cover the total costs directly as expenses, and the employee could require a lower increase in income if they obtain some tax rebates for expenses related to their jobs.

These rough calculations show that the savings made by employers when their staff works from home are of similar magnitude to the compensation workers should receive for setting up offices at home.

What does this mean for offices in cities?

One of two things may happen:

  1. Employers offload these costs onto employees. This would be a form of expropriation, with employees absorbing production costs that have traditionally been paid by the employer. This represents a considerable transfer of value from employees to employers.

  2. Employees will be properly compensated. In this case, employer real estate savings will be modest.

If savings are modest, then the many advantages of working in offices — such as conviviality, rapidity of communication, team-building and acclimatization of new employees — will encourage employers to shelve the idea of remote work and, Yahoo in 2013, encourage employees to work (most of the time) from corporate office space.


These companies plan to make working from home the new normal. As in forever

After coronavirus Shopify making majority of work remote

New York (CNN Business)The coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to embrace work-from-home solutions. For some, the transition may stick.

Several big businesses plan to let much of their staff work from home permanently, even after the pandemic. Working from home could become the new normal — at least for some…

Mark Zuckerberg said as many as 50% of () employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Zuckerberg pitched the idea as both a matter of satisfying employee desires and also as an effort to create “more broad-based economic prosperity.”

“When you limit hiring to people who live in a small number of big cities, or who are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, have different backgrounds, have different perspectives,” Zuckerberg said on a livestream posted to his page.

(TWTR)will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home “forever,” if they choose.

The company did not specify which roles will qualify for work-from-home. But said the experience of working from home for the past several months has shown that it can work at scale for the long-haul.

“If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” said 's vice president of people, Jennifer Christie, in a statement to CNN Business. “If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it's safe to return.”


CEO Jack Dorsey's other company, Square (SQ), plans to allow staff members to work from home once the pandemic ends.

Square wants employees to be able to work where they want in an environment that suits them.

“Moving forward, Squares will be able to work from home permanently, even once offices begin to reopen. Over the past several weeks, we've learned a lot about what it takes for people to effectively perform roles outside of an office, and we will continue to learn as we go,” the spokesperson told The Verge.


Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify (SHOP), announced that the world of work has been turned on its head.

“Office centricity is over,” he tweeted. “As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company.

Lutke said Shopify, an ecommerce platform for small businesses, will keep its offices closed until 2021. This year, Shopify will rework its physical spaces for this new reality. Afterward, most employees will work remotely — permanently.

“Until recently, work happened in the office. We've always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now,” Lutke tweeted. “The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup.”

Groupe PSA

French automaker PSA announced a “new era of agility,” in which its non-production staff will work remotely from now on.

“Given the positive experience and efficient measures already taken in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, Groupe PSA has therefore decided to strengthen teleworking and to make it the benchmark for activities not directly related to production,” the company said.

The company plans to redesign its offices to allow for in-person collaboration when needed, but PSA will reduce its real estate footprint. The company said it will allow employees to have a better work-life balance and easier commutes.

PSA, which makes Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall, said the new work-from-home plans will be implemented in the summer.

Box (BOX) CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog post that the cloud-storage company's nearly 2,000 employees are free to work “from anywhere” until the end of 2020.

Before the pandemic, he said, about 15% of Box's staff worked remotely, a number that is expected to go up. “At the same time, we know the power of having office hubs where in-person communities, mentorship, networking, and creativity can happen…That is why our future is a hybrid one.”

Levie said the staff's weekly all-hands meetings would remain “fully virtual” in the future, and stipends would be available to help improve their home office setups.


During a panel discussion moderated by Bloomberg on June 25, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said the company was going to allow employees to work from home indefinitely.

“I don't know if it's impossible, but it's going to be very, very hard to walk back,” Butterfield told Bloomberg's Emily Chang.

“If you go down this path and 20% of your employees are remote and 50% of them adjusted the way they work and where they live to work in an environment where they're in the office a day or two a week and then at home the rest, unwinding that is a little bit hard to imagine.”

– Brian Fung, Allison Morrow and Jazmin Goodwin contributed to this report

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Never Want To Go Back To The Office? Here’s Where You Should Work

After coronavirus Shopify making majority of work remote

Slack is giving most employees the option to work from home permanently. The company hasn't yet announced when offices will reopen for limited use.

© 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP

The past year has proven that employees can be just as, if not more, productive working from home as they are working in the office. Now, some employers are moving to capitalize on that realization, making the switch remote work permanent. 

Roughly half of U.S. professionals believe their companies will allow them to telecommute at least part of the time after the pandemic, according to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index. That percentage is even higher in industries including tech (73%), finance (67%) and media (59%), that see flexible work as the future.

Here is a guide to the companies adopting remote or hybrid work models for the long run. We’ll be adding to this guide as the situation develops, so check back for updates.


Though the Australian software company won’t be closing its offices, in an internal blog post published in August, the company told employees they could work from home forever, CNBC reported. Instead of measuring how long staffers work, Atlassian will reportedly measure outcomes, though few details were provided. 


The cofounders of credit-card startup Brex sent employees an email in August announcing their remote-first shift. While Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi said they, and their leadership team, will telecommute most days, offices in major cities will remain open.

“Off-sites will be a big part of Brex as a remote-first company. As soon as Covid is over, we’ll have frequent company and team events (i.e. once every ~2 months) focused on building deeper team relationships, rather than heads-down work,” the cofounders wrote.

Brex, which adjusts employees’ salaries geographic market, also announced that those who relocate to areas where pay rates are different may see their compensation change.

For current employees who relocate before September 2021, Brex said it will not make any such adjustments until September 2024.


In May, CEO Brian Armstrong told employees in a company-wide email that they’ll be able to choose whether they work from home or in the office after the pandemic ends.

His vision, he said, is to have one floor of office space in 10 cities, rather than 10 floors of office space in one city. “Part of the vision for Coinbase is to create a world with more economic freedom, and not being tied to one location is a key part of this,” Armstrong wrote.

“A mix of in-office and remote work allows us to ‘de-risk’ centralizing too much in a single location.”

Dropbox has committed to creating physical collaborative spaces, called Dropbox Studios, though employees will not be able to use them for solo work.



The file hosting service said it would become a “virtual first” company in October, adding that when it’s safe to gather in person, it will launch collaborative spaces called Dropbox Studios in locations where it currently has offices, starting with San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Dublin. Dropbox also announced it would be embracing “non-linear workdays” allowing employees to design their own schedules.


In July, the pharmaceutical company announced a shift from manager-approved remote work to manager-informed remote work, meaning employees can choose to work how, when and where they want. Novartis also said it would be expanding its mental health benefits as part of this initiative.

ONVU Technologies

The global information technology company announced in February that it would make its entire workforce fully remote.

“We feel confident in giving our team freedom in managing their time because of the amount of trust we place in them,” Human Resources Vice President Ragini Sidhu said in a statement.

“This trust comes from designing a workforce that brings the human element into the organization and establishes a solid work/life balance.”


The Q&A website announced in June that it had adopted a remote-first model, noting that 60% of its employees had chosen to work from home beyond Covid-19.

Quora will convert its office in Mountain View, California, into a co-working space for employees, though CEO Adam D'Angelo said he would not visit more than once a month.

His only requirement: Employees must turn their cameras on for all virtual meetings. 

Both of Jack Dorsey's companies, and Square, announced a permanent remote work change last year.


Just two months into working from home, announced the change would be permanent for many. In an email, CEO Jack Dorsey said all employees—except those in jobs requiring a physical presence, such as maintaining servers— would be allowed to work from home forever, BuzzFeed News reported.


Tobi Lütke, the CEO of Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, was quick to announce a permanent switch to remote work.

In May, he tweeted, “We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.

” The company is also running an experiment to learn more about the effect of teleworking on energy usage and carbon emissions.


Not only has Slack given most employees the option to work from home permanently, but it announced in June plans to increasingly hire remote-first workers.

Robby Kwok, senior vice president of people, wrote about how Slack is rethinking its offices, predicting “fewer amenities such as catered lunches and coffee bars, less focus on in-person meetings with colleagues, and more options for focused solo work.”


The music streaming company announced its “Work From Anywhere” policy in February, offering employees a choice of working fully from home, from the office or a combination of the two.

Spotify also pledged to give workers more flexibility on which locations they chose to work in.

If employees choose to work from locations that aren’t near a Spotify office, the company said it would offer them a co-working space membership if they want to work from an office.


A week after ’s remote-work announcement, Dorsey’s second company followed suit. As with , Square’s policy applies to employees who are physically able to do their jobs remotely, the Verge reported in May.


The public online freelance marketplace, which primarily provides remote job listings, decided this year to practice what it preaches. In May, newly minted CEO Hayden Brown tweeted that Upwork would permanently embrace a “remote-first” model.


Zillow announced in July that it would offer 90% of its employees flexible-work options permanently. Dan Spaulding, Zillow's chief people officer, said employees of the real estate marketplace will be allowed “to work where they are most productive, whether that is in the office, their home, or a combination of both.”


In 2021, HubSpot says its goal is to post 70% of its roles as location-agnostic on its careers website, if located within the hiring country.

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


Starting in January 2021, employees of the customer relationship management software company will be given three options: work in the office, work from home or adopt a hybrid model.

Those who choose the hybrid model will come into the office no more than two days a week and will be allocated a “hotel desk.” All employees will have the chance to change their arrangement once a year.

In 2021, the company’s goal will be for 70% of job openings to be for location-agnostic roles.


In a June 2020 return to work preference survey, 95% of Ford employees said they would prefer to maintain a mix of remote and in-office work when the pandemic ends.

The automaker listened, and announced on March 17 its transition to a hybrid work model globally for non-place dependent workers. In the U.S.

, these Ford employees can return to the office no earlier than July (if they choose) for small team gatherings.


The tech company said in December that it would be testing a “flexible workweek” once it’s safe to return to the office, according to an email obtained by the New York Times. Google employees would be required to work in the office at least three days a week.


Microsoft announced greater flexibility around its remote work policies in October. An internal memo obtained by the Verge revealed that employees would be allowed to telecommute up to 50% of the workweek, or errk their managers’ approval to permanently work remotely.


The insurance giant announced in April that it would be closing many of its smaller offices across the country, allowing many employees to work from home permanently. Nationwide will continue to operate four corporate offices in central Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Scottsdale, Arizona; and San Antonio, Texas.

Reddit said the company is “reimagining the future” of its office space. The company teased casual and coffee shop-style seating, private space for heads-down focusing and no more fixed desks.

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


In October, Reddit said it will grant employees the flexibility to decide where they work in the future: in the office, remotely or a combination of the two.

However, there are some exceptions, including roles in facilities and IT that need to be performed in the office. The company also announced a reimagined approach to compensation in the U.S., eliminating geographic compensation zones. “Our U.S.

compensation will be tied to pay ranges of high-cost areas such as SF and NY, regardless of where employees live,” the company said.


After surveying employees, Salesforce learned that 80% of its workers want to maintain a connection to a physical office space.

In February, the software company announced it would permanently switch to three ways of working: fully-remote, office-based or flex.

The majority of Salesforce employees will work on this flex-policy, meaning they will work in the office one to three days a week for team collaboration, customer meetings and presentations.


German manufacturing company Siemens announced in July that its employees can telecommute two or three days a week after the pandemic ends. The new model applies to more than 140,000 of the company’s employees in 43 countries.


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