Mark Zuckerberg and Meta’s Leadership Take Remote Work to the Extreme

Wednesday - 23/03/2022 13:33
Executives are scattering to locations far from Silicon Valley headquarters, working from Hawaii, Cape Cod, Europe
The company’s embrace of remote work follows its name change from Facebook to Meta. PHOTO: CONSTANZA HEVIA H. FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The company’s embrace of remote work follows its name change from Facebook to Meta. PHOTO: CONSTANZA HEVIA H. FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

As more companies begin their return to the office, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. FB -1.06% is becoming more remote than ever before.

The company’s management team, including Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, is scattering to locations far from its Silicon Valley headquarters in an extreme test of the limits of remote work.

Naomi Gleit, the company’s head of product and one of its longest-tenured employees, has relocated to New York. Chief Marketing Officer Alex Schultz plans to move to the U.K., and Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president of integrity, will be moving to Israel in the near future, according to a company spokesman.

Meanwhile Javier Olivan, Meta’s chief growth officer, has split his time between California and Europe but is planning to spend more time abroad, the spokesman said. Meta last week said that it will be doubling its Madrid office in Mr. Olivan’s home country of Spain to add 2,000 people over the next five years.
 

Naomi Gleit, Meta’s head of product, has relocated to New York. PHOTO: RICH FURY/GETTY IMAGES FOR TEEN VOGUE
Naomi Gleit, Meta’s head of product, has relocated to New York.
PHOTO: RICH FURY/GETTY IMAGES FOR TEEN VOGUE


Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, in recent months has been traveling and working remotely from locations including Hawaii, Los Angeles and Cape Cod, according to people familiar with the matter and the executive’s social-media posts. The spokesman said that Mr. Mosseri has no plans to relocate permanently.

Mr. Zuckerberg has also been spending more time away from the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg regularly spends extended periods at his compound in Hawaii and his other homes outside the Bay Area, the people said.

“The past few years have brought new possibilities around the ways we connect and work,” said Meta spokesman Tracy Clayton. “We believe that how people work is far more important than where they work from.” He said Mr. Zuckerberg plans to spend more than half his time in California and work remotely the rest of the year.
 

CEO Mark Zuckerberg regularly spends extended periods at his compound in Hawaii and his other homes outside the Bay Area. PHOTO: NICK WASS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CEO Mark Zuckerberg regularly spends extended periods at his
compound in Hawaii and his other homes outside the Bay Area.
PHOTO: NICK WASS/ASSOCIATED PRESS


In the short term Mr. Zuckerberg will also be without the counsel of his longtime No. 2, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who is taking a sabbatical this spring, as part of the company’s program to offer 30 days of paid leave every five years.

The company’s embrace of remote work follows its name change from Facebook Inc. to Meta in October, when the company signaled that it thinks virtual first interactions are the future of the internet. For work purposes, in particular, the company says it has invested in a range of technologies to make remote work more efficient, including videoconferencing and enterprise software tools.

The executive exodus from Menlo Park, however, comes as Meta navigates significant challenges to its business.
 



Real-estate transactions in the metaverse are reaching record highs. We spoke with companies investing in digital real estate to understand the economic model, and why investors are spending millions on virtual property. Photo: Republic Realm


The company’s stock price is down more than 32% since it announced its 2021 fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 2. That plunge has cost the company more than $300 billion in market value. The drop was a result of a number of challenges facing Meta, including growing competition by Chinese rival TikTok, a declining user base and continuing impact to the company’s advertising business from privacy changes to Apple Inc.’s iOS that Meta said it expects will cost the company some $10 billion this year.

Having this many top executives spread across so many different time zones is a concern considering that the company’s most recent quarterly results seemed to call for more of an all-hands-on-deck situation, said David Heger, an analyst at Edward Jones.

“Considering the juncture that the company’s at right at the moment, it may not be the ideal time to be experimenting with your top managers working remotely,” he said.

Meta in June said it would allow all full-time employees to apply to work from home if their jobs allowed it, even as it has continued to add office space to accommodate its growing workforce.

This policy doesn’t apply to all employees. Those who work on hardware devices or the company’s data-center infrastructure are still expected to come to the office.

Apart from these workers, Meta has shifted to a hybrid model that allows most employees, including top executives, to work from wherever they deem best. March 28 is the company’s return-to-work date for those who are expected or want to go back to the office.

The company is in the early stages of building out the so-called metaverse, a term used to describe virtual worlds in which people can interact to play or work.

With Meta pushing to build more products for its users that allow them to interact online virtually, having executives spread out geographically might be an asset, said Stephen Lee, founding principal at Logan Capital, a registered investment adviser that has bought Meta shares on behalf of clients.
 

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has worked remotely from locations including Hawaii, Los Angeles and Cape Cod. PHOTO: MICHAEL BROCHSTEIN/ZUMA PRESS
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has worked remotely from locations including Hawaii,
Los Angeles and Cape Cod.
PHOTO: MICHAEL BROCHSTEIN/ZUMA PRESS


“If you’re trying to develop the metaverse and develop workplace systems, learning by doing is probably not a bad way to do it,” Mr. Lee said.

There are few, if any, other companies taking remote work by management to this extreme, said Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School.

Having executives working together in person allows them to collaborate, strategize and build trust with one another, said Bill George, senior fellow at Harvard Business School where he is a professor of management practice. Being together physically can also help create and maintain a company’s culture, including by mentoring junior employees.

“Your people want to see you,” Mr. George said. “They want to know you’re there. Yes, you can use Zoom or Microsoft Teams or something to stay in contact, but there’s a lot to be said for presence.”

Many executives relocated to far-flung locations during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. But in most instances, Mr. George said, he thinks it serves the company better to have senior executives close to their team members.

“I’ve been to Hawaii, and I can tell you, you don’t get a lot of work done over there,” Mr. George said.

Mr. Zuckerberg has found ways to blend work with pleasure from Hawaii, posting on Instagram about his hydrofoil-surfing adventures and demonstrating the potential to enjoy those activities in the metaverse.

—Emily Glazer contributed to this article.

Author: Editors Desk

 Keywords: Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg

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