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Facebook parent company Meta is relying on remote roles as it expands across Europe, allowing new hires to work from anywhere within a group of countries around the world. EU and UK.

The company says most new recruits recruited to help build its VR-focused metaverse in the coming years will be eligible to work from home in eight countries across the continent, including Germany, France and Spain. Meta hopes that by relying heavily on remote control, he can expand his talent pool from his traditional strongholds of the UK and Ireland.

“Now we’re saying we’re going to look across Europe,” company spokeswoman Kelley Cousins ​​said. “The talent is there. We want to tap into that talent.”

Meta’s hiring campaign is likely to put more pressure on European companies to finalize their own hybrid and remote working policies as they seek increasingly scarce tech talent. Surveys show that employees are overwhelmingly in favor of flexible working arrangements. But companies have only gradually rolled out policies that apply beyond the pandemic.

“Attracting talent is one thing. But another is retaining talent,” said Iwo Szapar, a Warsaw-based remote work advocate. “Facebook is going after its people while it’s still looking for new ones.”

Tight talent market

Meta said it plans to hire at least 10,000 new workers on the mainland over the next five years for its Metaverse project. While these numbers are a ripple in Europe’s wider tech labor pool, the demand for tech workers has far exceeded the supply in recent years.

In Germany alone, 96,000 technical positions remained open at the end of 2021, according to a new survey by digital association Bitkom which examined software engineers, product managers and IT administrators, among other positions. Two-thirds of companies said they expected the gap to widen, the organization found.

“We expect demand in the medium term to only increase, especially due to demographic changes and also the digitalization demands faced by companies around the world,” said Adel Holdampf-Wendel, who studies the technological labor pools for Bitkom. “Every branch is looking for technology specialists.”

The pandemic has added new complexity. After working from home for nearly two years, employees frequently say in business surveys that they want flexibility when offices reopen. Rising property costs in tech hubs like Dublin, Paris and Berlin have made relocation less attractive for some applicants, while Europe’s restricted geography often makes working across borders a viable option.

“It feels like the horse is out of the stable,” said Jon Stross, co-founder and president of recruiting platform Greenhouse. “A lot of people have proven that ‘hey, we can be perfectly productive at home.’ And so there are enough companies offering that, that if you don’t, it definitely puts you at a disadvantage.”

“Flexible working is essential”

Mentions of remote work in new job postings have increased but remain rare. Greenhouse, which works largely with tech and professional services companies, said 5% of posts on its platform feature remote work, up from 1.5% before the pandemic.

Most companies still see remote work as an emergency solution during the worst waves of the pandemic. A survey of 600 German industries published by Bitkom in November found nearly three in four want to reduce or eliminate remote working altogether.

The development of hybrid policies has instead become a priority, with companies considering a fixed number of days for employees to work from home or elsewhere. Some companies have also accepted fixed periods for remote work outside the country.

Szapar, who runs an online platform for remote work and hosts seminars, says operating outside the office tends to attract the most in-demand tech workers, like software engineers.

Small businesses and startups showed more flexibility to quickly adjust their work policies, he said, while larger companies often reacted later in the pandemic.

German software company SAP has one of the most liberal policies in the country. Last summer, it began allowing its more than 100,000 employees worldwide to determine their own work locations and hours in coordination with supervisors and taking into account customer needs.

SAP employees were already working an average of 2.5 days from home a week before the pandemic, Christian Schmeichel, who leads the company’s remote and hybrid work efforts, said in an interview. In a survey, 16% of respondents said they would prefer a pure remote work schedule.

“Flexible working is and will be a key – I would say defining – feature of finding talent and competing for the best people, and not just in our industry,” Schmeichel said.

Big companies are still fine-tuning their policies. Unlike their American counterparts, European companies are often required to work in coordination with labor councils. They also face a more daunting list of regulations than businesses across the United States, noted Greenhouse Europe, Middle East and Africa chief Colm O’Cuinneain.

“A headquarters might say, ‘OK, we can work from anywhere,'” O’Cuinneain said. “But the reality is that with European companies it is more complex because there is a different labor law in each country, you have salary and tax considerations.

German company SAP has a very liberal policy on remote work

Remote first

Meta says his current footprint helps solve this problem. The bulk of its employees for the region are based in the UK and Ireland, but the company has a network of offices scattered across mainland Europe.

The entire Europe, Middle East and Africa region is now considered a single area in which employees can work remotely in one of eight countries: France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain or United Kingdom. -United. Many current Meta employees may also be eligible to work remotely, spokeswoman Cousins ​​said.

“If your role is eligible and you can do your job elsewhere, you’re more than welcome to opt into remote work,” she said. “Maybe you worked in Ireland and wanted to be in Spain or Germany. So that’s an available option.”

Remote recruits would not be able to work in local offices, Cousins ​​said. Instead, most new positions will report to a company office elsewhere in the region.

Meta first offered remote work to U.S. employees in 2020, citing the need to broaden its talent search while acknowledging rising costs in big cities. Employees are paid market rates based on where they live.

The company’s growth in Europe comes at a sensitive time. The EU is considering tougher new regulations on tech companies, with Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram firmly in the crosshairs.

The tech giant is currently just one of many companies across Europe allowing employees to work from home. COVID-19 cases have increased in Europe, driving more workers away from the office.

Edited by: Hardy Graupner