Shopify to shift its employees into a permanent work-from-home model

May 21 2020, 12:22 pm

Most of Shopify’s workforce across the globe will be finding itself remaining at home even after COVID-19, as the company signalled on Thursday that it will transition into a permanent work-from-home model.

Tobi Lutke, the CEO of Shopify, announced the new direction in a series of tweets, stating that Shopify is now “a digital by default company” and “office centricity is over.”

“Until recently, work happened in the office. We’ve always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now,” he wrote.

“The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your work-from-home setup. This means that the work experience should be the same for everyone who works together at Shopify no matter where they are working from.”

Meetings will continue to be conducted virtually, and employees will use the “best digital communications tools to work together.”

All of its offices will remain closed until 2021 to rework these workspaces for the company’s “new reality.” After this, most of the employees will work remotely.

This direction could put Shopify’s plans to open new major Toronto and Vancouver offices up in the air.

In 2018, the company announced it will invest as much as $500 million to open a new 254,000-sq-ft office at The Well in downtown Toronto. It was slated to open in 2022. Another new office location is located near this hub.

Shopify was also slated to open a new 70,000-sq-ft office in downtown Vancouver by the end of this year. This was described as a custom-designed space “where employees will thrive.”

“COVID is challenging us all to work together in new ways. We choose to jump in the driver’s seat, instead of being passengers to the changes ahead. We cannot go back to the way things were. This isn’t a choice; this is the future,” wrote Lutke.

Shopify is headquartered in Ottawa, and has offices in Montreal, Waterloo, San Francisco, Berlin, Vilnius, Shenzhen, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangalore, London, New York City, and Stockholm. It employs over 5,000 people worldwide. It recorded revenues of nearly $1.6 billion in 2019.

In a statement to Daily Hive, Brittany Forsyth, the Chief Talent Officer of Shopify, said the company is committed to retaining its recruiting hubs at its current and future Canadian markets, and other global locations.

“Digital by default is the mental model we’ll use to transform our ways of working, so we can match the ingenuity and creativity we’re seeing our merchants exhibit as they adapt,” she said.

A Shopify spokesperson also added they are drawing from the experiences of their support team and others who have worked from home this way for years. The office locations will remain closed until at least next year to allow for a redesign of their office spaces.