Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, tech companies created workplaces that were the envy of anyone who carried a brown bag for lunch. Gourmet meals (often free), free and open design, state of the art gyms (and showers!) swanky furniture, bright colors, natural light. Silicon Valley was the vanguard. 

How quickly things change. In recent weeks, both Twitter and Facebook announced they may allow a significant number of workers to work from home — permanently! 

“The shift to extended telework policies could have far-reaching consequences for the tech industry, affecting everything from wages to commercial rents, and even the way new companies are born, according to interviews with human resource execs, real estate professionals and venture investors,” according to an article in Erie News Now and CNN Business. 
“It’ll create new challenges for both companies and their workers, from how best to foster collaboration to questions of who should shoulder which costs. Some in the industry, from hardware engineers to cafeteria workers, may not be able to benefit from the change — and could be hurt by it if their employment dries up or their home prices drop in the event of an exodus. And it could make Silicon Valley as we know it — a regional cluster of tech offices where people flock to work and network — seem like a thing of the past.”

According to the article:

Silicon Valley’s flashy perks were never just for fun. They reflected a massive arms race in tech hiring, where convincing the right autonomous car engineer to work for you could mean the difference between your next big breakthrough or having to follow a rival’s lead.

Amid that constant competition for talent, Twitter and Facebook’s remote-work announcements raise pressure on other tech companies to consider supporting permanent telecommuting, experts say. The calculation is far from simple: It calls for a decision in the face of tremendous ambiguity about Covid-19 that could have long-term impacts on a company’s culture, brand and long-term costs.

Companies will likely take a range of approaches, according to labor economists and HR executives. But collectively, they say, employers will increasingly be expected to provide some form of added work flexibility. The pandemic was a turning point. An option that was once limited to roughly a third of the workforce is now here to stay — particularly if highly sought-after job candidates make it a demand.