But on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg revealed what he thinks things will look like when Facebook and the rest of the business world slowly start the transition back to normal.
You're probably wondering about how to handle this in your business, too. So even if you have a lot fewer employees than Facebook, it's worth a quick look at Zuckerberg's plans.
Here's what Zuckerberg is thinking, as revealed in his Facebook post. (I've embedded the entire post at the end of this article):
1. Moving slowly (because Facebook can)
Facebook says it's in an enviable position, simply because most Facebook employees can work from home much more easily than at other companies.
As a result, Zuckerberg says he plans to move slowly and that Facebook won't have all its workers back in the office "for some time," so as to avoid straining infrastructure, and letting other parts of the economy get back to normal.
"We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May," Zuckerberg wrote, "in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities."
As a business owner yourself, this prompts a simple question: Do our employees ever have to return to the office?
Or can we be just as productive, even after the crisis is over, with more flexibility and remote workers?
2. Prioritizing certain jobs over others
Although most Facebook employees can do their jobs from home, there are certain workers, "like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware," Zuckerberg wrote, that benefit from being in-office.
So, these will be the first groups asked to return. That makes sense to me, but it's worth comparing to other ways Facebook might have prioritized -- based perhaps on location, or seniority, or simply personal preference.
As a business owner you're probably thinking about the same question: If there's one group, or a few key players, that I want back in the office first: Who are they?
Now might be a good time to bring them into the loop about what you're thinking.
3. Offering generous exceptions
Even after all Facebook employees are asked to return, Zuckerberg said Facebook will offer wide-ranging exceptions for those who need them.
"[I]f there's any reason they feel they can't work in our offices -- because they are in a vulnerable population, because with schools and camps canceled they don't have childcare, or anything else -- that they can plan to work from home through at least the summer," he wrote.
This might go without saying, but you know that leadership is about much more than laying down rules; it's also about allowing smart exceptions to those rules.
Even as we start to get back to normal, you're likely to have some employees who can't return or just won't feel comfortable doing so. It's smart to think through how you'll handle that.
4. Canceling Facebook events and travel
In another era, this would have been the lead takeaway, but Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook will:
- Prohibit all business travel through the end of June, and
- Cancel all in-person events involving more than 50 people through June 2021.
That's more than a full year out -- and it says something about how slowly Facebook thinks things will really return to normal.
Many of us are living in a virtual world now and will be for some time. Ask yourself how quickly you think things will return to normal in your area and industry--and what kind of timing will work best for your business, your employees, and your customers.
Here's Zuckerberg's post: