Many people in the business world from media pundits to the corporate elite believe that we have been slowly undergoing a paradigm shift in which working remotely becomes more commonplace. However, 2020 rapidly accelerated this. Some companies, like Twitter, already had plans in the works to increase their work from home capabilities. But when faced with the realities of a global pandemic, it forced them to expedite such plans. And Twitter isn’t alone. Other Fortune 500 companies like Facebook and Microsoft were considering such a shift but now have implemented remote working practices.

Beyond the social norms and preferences of the practices, there is data to support the switch to remote working. Not only do most employees prefer working from home at least part-time, they have been more productive while doing so. In a YouGov survey, of those working from home as of January 2021 that were surveyed, 83% say that they like working from home. And even a majority of the respondents, 56% of them, say they like working remotely “a lot”. And when it comes to the productivity of the employees, there is also a marked increase. A Stanford study found a 13% increase in productivity when working from home.

So, since employees want to work remotely and it increases productivity, which is good for the business, then it’s no surprise that there are many companies that now allow their employees to work from home permanently.



Remote Policy: Hybrid / Remote Optional

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, first experimented with working from home himself and found that he was more productive. After this realization, The Washington Post reported that he sent an email to his employees encouraging them to work from home.

While this was supposed to be a two-year project, as previously mentioned, the pandemic accelerated such plans. And from now on any employees that are easily able to work from, can work from home “forever” if they wish.



Remote Policy: Remote First

Similar to Twitter (and in fact is a common theme for many of these companies) the pandemic accelerated Coinbase’s plans to shift towards a remote-first policy model. And after the forced work from  home experiment they undertook due to the social distancing requirements, they realized that making such a significant shift towards a remote-first policy would not be as difficult as they expected. And while perhaps the employees didn’t sign-up for a remote-first policy working environment, they are also flexible in allowing employees to work from the office if they wish.

They decided to make the switch for multiple reasons: one strategic, and one practical. In practical terms, it made the most sense to continue with a flexible remote working policy due to continuing epidemiological situations. And while this was mainly for the short-term, it serves the strategic purpose as well. As they believe that remote working will only become more ubiquitous, it makes sense from a strategic standpoint to be among the early-adopting companies to allow such remote working practices.



Remote Policy: Remote First

Nationwide Insurance is making a significant shift towards remote working. Before the pandemic, they had 20 physical offices around the country but shrank that number to only four main corporate campuses. They decided to make the permanent shift to a hybrid operating model with a remote-first orientation mainly because of strategy as they had already been investing heavily in the technological capacity for such a shift and they believe that it will reduce costs and enable sustainable growth of the business.



Remote Policy: Remote First

As of June 2020, Quora made the permanent shift to a remote-first model. They put considerable thought into why exactly they wanted to make this shift and why they chose this particular model. They had four reasons in fact why they chose to shift from the “traditional” in-person model: long commutes, ability to focus, housing availability near San Francisco, and the immigration and visa situation. They found that an expanded remote working policy would address these issues by eliminating long and stressful commutes and the need to live in the direct vicinity of the campus where housing prices are exorbitant, improving the focus by allowing people to work in the environment that best suits them, and for potential or current employees, they don’t need to worry about visas and possible immigration-related issues.

Furthermore, they opted for a remote-first policy rather than a hybrid model where certain teams and/or leadership still work in the office due to the preferential treatment of those working in the office. Even if it’s unintended, there is a tendency of those in a position of power to give preferential treatment to those they are familiar with. So, by switching to a remote-first model where the office is now a coworking space, it allows for those with various working preferences to coexist. If they are fond of an office environment, they are free to work in the coworking space as they wish. And for those that prefer remote working, they can do so and work anywhere that Quora can legally employ them.



Remote Policy: Remote Optional

As Square has the same CEO as Twitter – Jack Dorsey – they have adopted a nearly identical remote working policy. He made a nearly identical announcement to that regarding Twitter. And the spokesperson from Twitter told The Verge “we want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive”. So, if one is capable to do their work from home, then there is no reason that they can’t and in fact, it seems that Jack Dorsey encourages the practice as he himself has benefited from it.



Remote Policy: Remote Optional

In 2020 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be aggressively ramping up its hiring of remote workers. And they plan on implementing a well-defined approach to opening up permanent remote work positions for existing employees. Zuckerberg predicted that 50% of the company’s employees may be working from home in the next five or ten years. He believes that by incorporating such practices they can attract more highly qualified individuals to work for the company as it takes away the geographical limitations imposed by physical working conditions. It can also serve to improve employee retention as remote working can be desired by many prospective new hires. Both of these reasons also serve to increase the diversity of the workforce, according to Facebook.



Remote Policy: Remote First

Pinterest made an interesting decision to terminate their office lease in San Francisco early as they rethink their remote working policy. What is interesting about this decision is that they had to pay a substantial $89.5 million to terminate the lease agreement. And they did this before they have even put together (at least publicly) a coherent plan regarding their remote working policy. And in fact, the only certainty is that they will continue their remote-first policy until August 2021. The chief financial officer Todd Morgenfeld stated “As we analyze how our work will change in a post-COVID world, we are specifically rethinking where future employees could be based. A more distributed workforce will give us the opportunity to hire people from a wider range of backgrounds and experiences”.

While they still maintain its headquarters in San Francisco (different from the office lease they terminated), they appear to be interested in making the permanent shift to a remote-first model through their comments and willingness to break such an expensive lease agreement.



Remote Policy: Hybrid

Microsoft has developed its own hybrid workplace model based upon a propriety concept called the Hybrid Workplace Dial in which there are six defined stages. While this is mainly for the COVID-19 situation, it shows the seriousness to which they consider remote working. Additionally, they have created the Work Trend Index which includes deep research and expert insights into the current state of remote work and it peeks into the future of work as well. They have also gone as far as allowing increasingly more employees to work from home permanently. If it’s possible, employees can freely work from home for less than 50% of their working week. And if they get managerial approval, they can permanently work remotely.

Microsoft also experimented with a 4-day workweek in a subsidiary in Japan. They implemented a test in which they closed their offices every Friday for a month. And upon comparing it to the same month of an earlier year, they found a 39.9% increase in labor productivity.  So perhaps, if this is any indicator, in addition to remote working, a shortened workweek may also be the future of work.



Remote Policy: Hybrid

The petroleum giant BP announced in early 2021 that they will make a post-COVID and permanent shift to a hybrid model. They have said that the 25,000 office-based staff will be expected to work from home for two days a week. They introduced a hybrid model because they recognize both the importance of in-person collaboration and also the benefits that come along with a flexible and dynamic remote working model. So, they are attempting to capture the best of both worlds with this 60-40 split between working from home and office attendance. Additionally, it also serves to cut both financial and carbon-related costs.



Remote Policy: Hybrid (limited)

Apple is attempting to follow the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter by allowing employees to work remotely part of the time. However, unlike the other tech giants, they are taking a much stricter approach. While Twitter is extremely open to remote working, and Microsoft and Facebook are relatively relaxed, Apple is planning to have all employees return to office buildings at least three days a week with the option to work remotely twice a week, beginning in September, according to The Verge. The two days a week can only be on Wednesdays and Fridays. They also can work remotely for two entire weeks a year. While it’s more flexible than not allowing any remote work, there are concerns that rigid work schedules could adversely impact the company’s ability to retain talent when other tech firms are much more flexible in their remote work policies, according to CNBC.



Remote Policy: Remote First

One would think that a company that is famous for its business communication platform would have been built on a remote-first model already. But that wasn’t the case. However, they are certainly embracing it now. While they are still formulating a coherent policy, they seem to be significantly shifting to a remote-first world. The world in which they image working is based upon a more asynchronous work cadence where the time zone and hours one works are not confined to 9-5 of a certain time zone. They have already started the shift by incorporating such policies into their hiring practices and the new roles are open to remote candidates, and most of the current employees have the option to permanently work remotely.



Remote Policy: Hybrid / Remote Optional

The large multinational Siemens was the first large German company to make permanent changes to the work model of the company. The model, which of course was influenced by the pandemic, allows its employees (where applicable) to work from wherever they want to for two or three days a week. They made this decision to allow employees to work wherever they feel that they are the most productive, whether it be in the office, at home, or perhaps in a coworking space. They also plan to adjust the leadership style that focuses more on outcomes, rather than “face time” at the office.


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to rethink their work model, particularly when it comes to their remote policy. And while some companies like Yahoo! and Reddit have reverted back to a traditional system, many companies, including industry leaders have chosen to embrace the change and expand their remote policy and allow employees to work from home permanently.