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Facebook: Our staff can carry on working from home after Covid

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By Nina Nanji

Business reporter

image copyrightFacebook

image captionMany people have had to juggle working from home with childcare during the pandemic.

Facebook says its employees can continue working from home, even as other tech giants appear to be going off the idea.

The social media company told the BBC it thinks remote work is “the future”.

People in eligible roles at Facebook can apply for permanent remote working, subject to approval from managers.

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Silicon Valley executives were quick to endorse the shift to remote work last year, with some indicating it could continue even after the pandemic.

Last May, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg predicted 50% of the company’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to ten years.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey made headlines at the same time, when he announced his employees “can now work from home forever”.

But as the months have passed, some of the drawbacks have emerged.

At a conference in October, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said the lack of division between private life and work life meant “it sometimes feels like you are sleeping at work”.

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Last month, Google announced it was bringing forward its timetable of moving people back into the office.

People ‘thrived’ at home

The coronavirus crisis prompted a rapid shift away from office working to home working.

Now, as firms look beyond the pandemic, many are deciding whether to bring employees back to offices or allow them to stay at home.

image copyrightFacebook

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image captionFacebook plans to start reopening its Silicon Valley offices in May.

Brynn Harrington, who is Facebook’s vice president of People Growth, says some workers have been “really thriving” at home and will be keen to continue doing so.

“For example, parents who are closer to their children and are happy to cut their commute time and optimise their work day, they’re thrilled to work from home,” she said.

But she admits it has not been easy for everyone.

“Obviously this is working from home during a pandemic, we are not in a period of healthy remote work,” she said.

“We have people juggling care giving responsibilities, we have people living in small apartments with roommates, those people desperately want to get back into offices, and we’re working really hard to do that, as soon as it’s safe to open our offices.”

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Facebook plans to start reopening its Silicon Valley offices at the beginning of May, after more than a year of working from home during the pandemic.

Its largest offices won’t reach 50% capacity until September at the earliest.

Pay rates

The social media giant insists the shift to remote work is not about saving costs. But it has also hinted that remote workers might receive lower pay, depending on where they choose to live and work.

“We pay based on the local cost of labour in a market,” Ms Harrington said. “So there will be variability in terms of pay for remote workers, based on where they work.”

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Facebook’s approach is at odds with many other firms, which have expressed a desire to have their workers return to the office.

The boss of Goldman Sachs rejected remote working as the “new normal”, labelling it an “aberration”.

“I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us,” David Solomon said in February.

In February, Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays bank, said that working from home was “not sustainable”.

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Other big companies have plans to test so-called hybrid work arrangements, where employees split their time between home and office.

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See also  Facebook Brings Zoom Meetings To Portal TV

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

See also  Facebook Brings Zoom Meetings To Portal TV

Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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