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Protocol | Workplace

Facebook thinks big companies can't compete without remote work

If you make employees come in, you’ll be at a ‘distinct disadvantage’ in attracting talent, says Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook's head of recruiting.

Facebook's head of recruiting

Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook's head of recruiting, loves how remote work has made potential candidates more open to calls from recruiters.

Photo: Miranda Kalinowski

Facebook laid down a gauntlet to other big tech companies earlier this month when it said it would allow all employees to remain remote indefinitely, if they chose.

Facebook's about-face — the company had previously planned to allow only senior figures to work remotely — could set the stage for a new battle over tech worker benefits and culture. Apple, Amazon and Google have all doubled down on the idea that permanently remote work should end with the coronavirus pandemic. While Facebook employees can now work from anywhere, even from some other countries, Apple and Amazon alike have both set requirements for three days in the office, and Google is allowing only 20% of its workforce to apply to remain remote.

"The fact that it's offered, I think, is becoming more and more table stakes for candidates. Companies that are not able to offer it will see themselves at a distinct disadvantage," Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook's head of recruiting, told Protocol, explaining how and why Facebook decided to create its remote work benefits, and what this means for the future of hiring at Facebook.

Compared to one year ago, the biggest permanent shift in what candidates are asking for (and expect) is flexibility — and unlike other Big Tech firms, Facebook has decided to take advantage of that fact. "In the past, we had a well-understood emphasis on working in close proximity to your peers," Kalinowski said. Removing that emphasis was a weighty decision for the company, but it's what candidates and current workers wanted, according to Kalinowski.

Facebook isn't the only company with workers who want to stay home, and its new plan may be staving off an employee rebellion. At Apple, a contingent of workers has launched a petition to end Apple's required three days in the office, alleging that people are quitting because they're going to be forced to go back to work and that Apple's obsession with in-person culture is more harmful than helpful.

Facebook's new acceptance of remote work will also change how the company recruits. Not only will it be able to go after the workers seeking flexibility who currently work at other Silicon Valley companies such as Apple, but recruiters will also be able to look for engineers across North America, rather than just those living in the few Facebook engineering office locations. "Obviously from a recruiting perspective we love it, because it means we can attract a much more diverse set of candidates who otherwise might not have considered our company," Kalinowski said.

"There's no secret to the fact that across the tech sector, we've got a huge opportunity to attract more [remote] candidates who have been from underrepresented groups that we may not have been able to attract in the past," she added.

And for potential candidates who've long been skeptical about Facebook's intentions or reputation, new remote-work benefits can differentiate the company in a new way. "Look, I think healthy skepticism can be a good thing. It's no secret that we're working on really challenging problems … We don't always get the answers right. The skepticism about our decisions and the actions can really benefit us," Kalinowski said when Protocol asked whether the new policies could help ease Facebook's reputational problems. "We definitely want people who don't shy away from helping us challenge those decisions and problems," she added.

Beyond widening who Facebook can now recruit, the new policy has already changed how the company thinks about its physical locations. Facebook originally planned to set up new company hubs in Dallas, Denver, Atlanta and other cities. Given that remote work means teams working together could be scattered across the country or the globe, however, it is difficult to project if people will be interested in building office-based communities where they live. "I think more likely, shortly in the more immediate to mid-term, the pull will be toward the team that you're working with," Kalinowski explained. "We will need to find more virtual ways of keeping those community bonds."

For Kalinowski, the most exciting change caused by remote work is that recruiting got easier, not harder. The end of face-to-face requirements simplified people's abilities to make connections. "Not having to get people on a plane, on a shuttle, to a building, in a room, taking time off, stripped it all back," she said. And at home, people are willing to answer their phones in a way they were unable to in an office. "That's been a surprising benefit, and one I hope we can continue," she said.

And even once people can again fly everywhere, the recruiting team has learned an important lesson from the last year: Just because someone can do something, or the company can afford it, does not mean flying people across the country is always the best for everyone. "We will when it's convenient for candidates and for interviewers," Kalinowski said. But "what will be more important is getting the candidates to meet with the right person, and that right person might be in another country or another time zone."

"We do know that [candidates] are looking for companies that look after their people well. We have a really obvious opportunity to demonstrate that," she said.

Protocol | Workplace

The Activision Blizzard lawsuit has opened the floodgates

An employee walkout, a tumbling stock price and damning new reports of misconduct.

Activision Blizzard is being sued for widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination.

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is in crisis mode. The World of Warcraft publisher was the subject of a shocking lawsuit filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing last week over claims of widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination against female employees. The resulting fallout has only intensified by the day, culminating in a 500-person walkout at the headquarters of Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine on Wednesday.

The company's stock price has tumbled nearly 10% this week, and CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged in a message to employees Tuesday that Activision Blizzard's initial response was "tone deaf." Meanwhile, there has been a continuous stream of new reports unearthing horrendous misconduct as more and more former and current employees speak out about the working conditions and alleged rampant misogyny at one of the video game industry's largest and most powerful employers.

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Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Protocol | Workplace

Founder sues the company that acquired her startup

Knoq founder Kendall Hope Tucker is suing the company that acquired her startup for discrimination, retaliation and fraud.

Kendall Hope Tucker, founder of Knoq, is suing Ad Practitioners, which acquired her company last year.

Photo: Kendall Hope Tucker

Kendall Hope Tucker felt excited when she sold her startup last December. Tucker, the founder of Knoq, was sad to "give up control of a company [she] had poured five years of [her] heart, soul and energy into building," she told Protocol, but ultimately felt hopeful that selling it to digital media company Ad Practitioners was the best financial outcome for her, her team and her investors. Now, seven months later, Tucker is suing Ad Practitioners alleging discrimination, retaliation and fraud.

Knoq found success selling its door-to-door sales and analytics services to companies such as Google Fiber, Inspire Energy, Fluent Home and others. Knoq representatives would walk around neighborhoods, knocking on doors to market its customers' products and services. The pandemic, however, threw a wrench in its business. Prior to the acquisition, Knoq says it raised $6.5 million from Initialized Capital, Haystack.vc, Techstars and others.

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Megan Rose Dickey
Megan Rose Dickey is a senior reporter at Protocol covering labor and diversity in tech. Prior to joining Protocol, she was a senior reporter at TechCrunch and a reporter at Business Insider.
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Protocol | Workplace

What’s the purpose of a chief purpose officer?

Cisco's EVP and chief people, policy & purpose officer shares how the company is creating a more conscious and hybrid work culture.

Like many large organizations, the leaders at Cisco spent much of the past year working to ensure their employees had an inclusive and flexible workplace while everyone worked from home during the pandemic. In doing so, they brought a new role into the mix. In March 2021 Francine Katsoudas transitioned from EVP and chief people officer to chief people, policy & purpose Officer.

For many, the role of a purpose officer is new. Purpose officers hold their companies accountable to their mission and the people who work for them. In a conversation with Protocol, Katsoudas shared how she is thinking about the expanded role and the future of hybrid work at Cisco.

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Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

Protocol | Fintech

The digital dollar is coming. The payments industry is worried.

Jodie Kelley heads the Electronic Transactions Association. The trade group's members, who process $7 trillion a year in payments, want a say in the digital currency.

Jodie Kelley is CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association.

Photo: Electronic Transactions Association

The Electronic Transactions Association launched in 1990 just as new technologies, led by the World Wide Web, began upending the world of commerce and finance.

The disruption hasn't stopped.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

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