Facebook gives staff a three month deadline to get back to their desks

Facebook gives staff a three month deadline to get back to their desks

10/06/2021

Facebook gives UK staff a three month deadline to get back to their desks: Workers who were offered pay cuts to ‘WFH’ will now have to APPLY to stay at home from January 2022 – as massive outage is blamed on people not being in the office

  • Currently, nearly all of the firm’s staff in the UK and worldwide are based at home
  • From January they’ll need to be at desk half time unless have permission to WFH
  • Facebook’s massive outage on Monday partly blamed on staff not being in office 

Facebook has begun pushing its staff to return to the office in three months, with anyone who wants to continue working from home required to apply for permission to do so.

Currently, nearly all of the firm’s staff in the UK and worldwide are based at home but from January 2022 everyone will be expected to appear at their desks for at least half of the time unless they have been granted permission to work remotely.

The need to request formal permission also applies to employees offered pay cuts in return for staying at home in cases where the local cost of living is lower than around the office where they are usually based.

It follows claims a huge outage that knocked out Facebook services worldwide was exacerbated by people not being at its main American office.

Company sources insisted any decisions would be taken on a case by case basis and the decision whether to work from home or not remained voluntary.

Currently, nearly all Facebook staff in the UK and worldwide are based at home but from January 2022 everyone will be expected to appear at their desks for at least half of the time unless they have been granted permission to work remotely

The huge outage that hit Facebook servers on Monday lasted for seven hours and took all its key services offline.

Insiders believe the crisis was worsened by employees working from home as staff were locked out of key data centers and messaging services. The new working from home policy pre-dates this event.

Facebook said in an update on Tuesday that there was ‘no malicious activity behind this outage,’ meaning that an employee’s inadvertent error in updating network settings likely triggered the crisis.

While the massive outage was a minor annoyance for casual Facebook users, it was a grave concern to the countless small businesses that rely on the platform and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as vital channels to communicate with customers.

Facebook is also used to log in to many other apps and services, leading to unexpected issues accessing shopping accounts, dating apps, smart home devices, and a wide range of other services.

For employees themselves, the situation was dire. Striking just after 8.30am in California, the outage left employees arriving at the Menlo Park headquarters locked out as the company’s access card system went down, according to multiple reports.

For the roughly three-quarters of Facebook employees working remotely, the company’s internal messaging system Workplace was also knocked offline by the outage, leaving a skeleton crew at the company’s main Santa Clara data center cut off from assistance as they raced to debug the network servers.

Teams dispatched to the main data center also reportedly had difficulty accessing secure rooms to revert faulty configurations on key systems.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks with Bobby Kotick of Activision Blizzard at a tech conference 

Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society, said in a tweet: ‘Facebook basically locked its keys in its car.’

Facebook has said that Monday’s historic outage was caused by ‘configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers.’

It is believed that a faulty update to Facebook’s Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which routes traffic between large private networks and the public Internet, left apps and browsers unable to locate the company’s services.

Facebook has led the way in allowing employees to work remotely during the pandemic, and one purported insider said on Reddit that the Santa Clara data center had lower staffing due to pandemic restrictions.

‘The nature of the problem meant Facebook would have needed network engineers to physically access their BGP routers – and due to the pandemic, some of the data centers quite possibly don’t have an engineer based on site, or someone who could have immediately started to work on the problem,’ Kieron Harding, an IT Infrastructure Engineer at GRC International Group, told DailyMail.com.

‘One of the reasons why the outage lasted for as long as it did was because the misconfiguration of the BGP also affected Facebook’s physical door access systems – which shut down; meaning engineers couldn’t get into the buildings, or secure rooms, to start fixing the issues straightaway,’ said Harding.

The requirement to request formal permission also applies to employees offered pay cuts in return for staying at home in cases where the local cost of living is lower than around the office where they are usually based. Pictured is Facebook’s new London HQ 

Facebook’s decision to move its headquarters from limited to full capacity will be seen as a recognition of the value of being based in an office after months of hype from Silicon Valley executives about the possibilities of remote working.

Last May, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey made headlines when he said ‘Twitter employees can now work from home forever’.

It was speculated that after the pandemic, the ‘new normal’ for Silicon Valley would likely be a workforce heavily geared around remote working, with companies needing only minimal staff on-site.

However, this is looking increasingly unlikely following recent moves by the tech giants.

Google employees have had to apply to work from home since September.

Amazon and Apple have both set January as its expected date for regular in-person attendance in the office. 

Company sources insisted any decisions would be taken on a case by case basis and the decision whether to work from home or not remained voluntary

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