Facebook’s parent company, Meta, plans to bring employees back to the office after a long period of work online, but employees will no longer enjoy the perks they once had.
According to a new report published by the New York Times, seven unnamed Meta employees said most employees were expected to return to the office by the end of March but would no longer enjoy the same privileges as before. The company’s stock price will decline.
Meta told employees in Friday’s announcement that it would reduce or eliminate free services such as laundry, dry cleaning, valet parking and postponing dinner until after 6pm. Employees said that the new dinner time was very inconvenient, because the last bus that took employees to leave the company to go home was also at 6 pm.
These measures reflect the changing workplace culture in Silicon Valley. Tech companies, which often offer living benefits in exchange for employees working long hours in the office, are preparing to adapt to a new hybrid work model.
For example, at Meta, many employees are scheduled to return to the company office on March 28, but some will continue to work from home and others will rarely come to the office.
The change could serve as a warning to employees at other companies preparing to return to the office two years after the pandemic. Google, Meta and others have long provided living perks like on-site medical care, sushi buffets, candy shops and lounge chairs, etc. to attract and retain employees.
Meta is having a rough time, for the first time since May 2020, Facebook’s capitalization – now Meta – has fallen below the $600 billion mark. The stock fell 2.1% to trade at $220.18, pushing the social network’s market value on Feb. 8 to $599.32 billion. In March, Meta’s market cap fell to $515 billion.
While company managers said it wasn’t related to a change in benefits, some employees suggested it.
For years the company dominated global social networks, now undergoing significant changes as growth stagnated and younger competitors like TikTok gaining global traction.
Investors question the long-term prospects of the company’s advertising business model. And some employees think of looking for a new job when they see a sharp drop in the value of their stock-based salary.
Last year, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would shift its focus to the metaverse. The entire company has been reorganized around Zuckerberg’s vision of augmented and virtual reality products.
Meta has been discussing changes to its benefits program for months as the company learns how to transition to a new hybrid work model, two employees said. The company is also expanding employee health benefits from about $700 to $3,000 this year in an effort to offset the elimination of some in-office benefits. This level of assistance covers everything from physical health care to mental health and expenses related to financial planning, child care, elderly care, and pet care.
“When we return to the office, we adapt on-site services and facilities to better reflect the needs of the combined workforce.” A Meta spokesperson said in a notice to employees. “We believe people and teams will be even more distributed in the future, and we are committed to building experiences that help everyone succeed.”
Just minutes after the changes were announced, employees asked if the company planned to compensate them in some way, and whether Meta conducted an employee survey to assess the changes. How would the changes affect them?
Contrary to many objections, some are in favor of this change.
Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer, has defended some of the changes staunchly. Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer, also wrote a comment in support of the change.
Other employees working in the food service group also supported the change, saying changing meal times would prevent employees from abusing their eating rights and taking large quantities of food home for free. Prior to that, someone cram up to 10 boxes of steaks to take home.
Meta said the change in meal service is for employees who want to work overtime, while the abolition of valet parking is intended to reduce environmental impact by encouraging employees not to bring their own car.
Stopped laundry services for employees at Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, ending Silicon Valley’s notoriously wacky privileges. Laundry services operated by third parties offer free pick-up and drop-off around campus and are meant to “make people’s lives easier,” according to Facebook in a statement in 2020.