According to Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, “office centricity is over.”
Lutke announced today that Shopify’s offices would be closed until at least 2021 – and that most of the company’s staff will continue to work remotely thereafter.
“As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality,” wrote Lutke.
“Until recently, work happened in the office. We’ve always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now. The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your [work from home] setup.”
The e-commerce company, which has its headquarters in Ottawa, has 5,000 employees working across 16 offices around the world. Last year, they opened their second Toronto office, taking over the top nine floors of a 15-storey building at King and Portland. This past January, Shopify also announced it would open its first Vancouver office.
Other major tech companies have also announced that staff will be able to work remotely indefinitely. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said that employees can work remotely going forward, while Facebook is giving new hires the choice to work remotely and plans to extend that option to current employees.
Closing or downsizing offices will save tech companies millions in commercial rent, but as Lutke points out, will also radically change how they hire people.
“There are silver linings: we now have the opportunity to be joined by a whole lot of incredible individuals from around the world that otherwise couldn’t because of our previous default to proximity,” Lutke wrote.
When companies do return to the workplace, the floor plans will likely need to change again to allow for more space between desks, hand sanitation stations or dividers between reception desks and the public.