Meta delays return to office to an optimistic March 28th

The company has updated guidance at least half a dozen times.

NOAH BERGER via Getty Images

Meta, the company that at the beginning of this pandemic was called Facebook, has updated its return-to-office guidance, moving its target date from the end of this month to March 28th, CNBC reports. With the shifting timetables for reopening and inconsistent guidance, one can only imagine how whiplashed the company's employees must feel.

To wit: Back in December of 2020, CEO Mark Zuckerberg first told employees they would not be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to work. At that time, the company projected remote work could continue until at least July of 2021, though it later pushed to open offices in May. By June, Zuckerberg had passed a new edict: either seek permission from a manager to work from home, or be expected to come to the office for at least half the week.

A month later the Delta variant came along, Zuckerberg changed his stance on vaccine requirements for employees, and the company set a new target of October for a full reopening. By August of last year, it had pushed its the return-to-office to January of 2022. As Omicron spread rapidly this winter, Meta held fast to its January 31st goal, but gave some employees the option to delay in-person work by three to five months via an "office deferral program." Incidentally, this new March 28th date includes a new requirement that employees receive the vaccine booster as well.

In the face of so much uncertainty, several of Meta's tech peers, like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Uber and Docusign, have chosen to postpone reopening indefinitely. Facebook moderators embedded at the company's Mountain View headquarters were scheduled to report for in-office work on January 24th — one week ahead of full-time employees and with no option for different. Their contractor, Accenture, reversed that decision after widespread internal protests from workers.

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