Yesterday, during a publicly streamed company townhall, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the office occupancy challenges that the company is facing, and how the future might look for some of its employees. While the company has offered the choice of remote work throughout 2020 in order to comply with social distancing safety recommendations, Facebook is also looking at rolling out a hybrid remote/on-site work experiment beyond this year. The company’s long-term hiring strategy will also include setting up new hubs, the first of which will most likely be Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver.
Atlanta, Dallas, Denver: Hot Hubs for IT Talent
As part of a multi-phase rolling out of remote hiring, Zuckerberg named the three hubs where Facebook will start tapping into fresh talent pools: Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver. While these will not necessarily be offices at the start, Facebook’s CEO did express strong interest in having physical spaces in which these new communities could come together — replacing the currently occasional “off-site” gatherings with regular “on-site” get-togethers for teams.
All three of the locations shortlisted by Facebook’s CEO for new hub destinations rank among the top U.S. cities for tech startups, which generally translates into deep tech labor pools. The extensive analysis we conducted last year into the country’s richest wells of creative tech talent revealed several key facts about these three cities:
Atlanta: Hot Market for Fresh Tech Talent
Atlanta boasts a rich talent pool fueled by educational institutions such as Georgia Tech and Emory University. In terms of attracting millennials, the city ranked second only to Seattle, with a 15% increase in the number of millennial residents, between 2013 and 2017. Notably, the city also saw a 38% growth in computer, engineering, and science jobs over the same five years. Moreover, Atlanta ranks among the top 10 U.S. metros for progress in urban sustainability.
Denver: Most Desirable Destination for Millennials
Nearly 8% of Denver’s population aged 25 to 39 holds a bachelor’s degree or higher in science and engineering. Census data we analyzed showed that employment in computer, engineering, and science occupations had increased 22% from 2013 to 2017. Moreover, the city ranked fifth nationwide for growth in millennial population — 14.4% over five years, resulting in millennials making up nearly 32% of local residents. In fact, a separate study dedicated to identifying the most desirable U.S. metros for millennials found the Denver metropolitan area to be at the top of the list.
Dallas: Growing Tech Job Market
Dallas also ranked in the top 10 for growth in tech education, with a 9% increase over five years in the number of residents aged 25 to 39 who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in science and engineering. Moreover, the local tech job market had seen an impressive 20% increase in number of computer, engineering, and science jobs. The Dallas metro area is home to one of the largest tech workforces in the country and continues to grow. Wages for tech workers here are reportedly as much as 10% above the national average.
Facebook Outlines Measured Phases of Reopening
Zuckerberg explained that the first stage of reopening offices will be limited to roughly 25% capacity, which means that most employees will remain remote for some time, while the company makes further arrangements to ensure a safe return for more people.
At least 95% of company employees are working remotely at this point. An internal Facebook survey revealed that roughly 20% of employees were very interested in full-time remote work going forward, while an additional 20% were somewhat interested in remaining fully remote. About 75% of those groups stated that they might use that support and flexibility to relocate to other metros or smaller cities.
Building on that sentiment, the company looks to ways of preserving its culture while unlocking remote hiring throughout the U.S. and Canada. Zuckerberg explained that hiring will continue and will be phased in three geographical categories: extended suburban metro areas around established hubs, hiring for hubs in new metro areas, and remote locations that remain to be determined. Moreover, he stated that it is unlikely the company will cut down on office space, overall.
Facebook’s First Phase of Labor Expansion
The first phase of remote hiring will be open to an extended region around existing Facebook locations. Zuckerberg expressed a broad quantification of that as “people who live within a one- to four-hour drive away from existing hubs.” He added that this would include extended suburban areas, rural areas, as well as satellite cities to established hubs, of which he named Portland, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as examples.
Portland, which is within that drive from the company’s Seattle location, also ranked among the top 10 metros favored by millennials. The city fares well in terms of metro-wide commute times and regional price parity, as well as urban sustainability progress, doing measurably well in terms of growth in number of green jobs, increase in LEED certifications, and sustainability-oriented city policies.
San Diego, within that drive from the company’s L.A. hub, ranks second in the nation for internet connectivity and speed. Although the city is one of the fastest-growing U.S. office markets in the country, downtown San Diego has been among the most laid back of the last 10 years, with most commercial real estate development happening in its suburbs.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are within that drive from Facebook’s office space in New York City. Pittsburgh stood out in our analysis on best-performing former rust-belt cities, boasting an overall labor force participation of 63%, and a 25% increase of the median annual wage over 10 years. We found Philadelphia to be among the best U.S. cities for women working in STEM occupations — the city earned the fourth-highest score out of major northeastern U.S. cities.