Ottawa-based Shopify announced that it is now a “digital by default” company, meaning that even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, most of its staff will permanently work from home.
The company’s CEO, Tobi Lutke, made the announcement on Twitter, stating that Shopify will keep its offices closed until 2021, so that staff can adjust to the new digital default. He went on to state that “office centricity is over.”
Lutke said that Shopify has always had some staff work remotely, but that they used the internet as a bridge to the office. He says that this will be reversed now, as “the future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your WFH setup.”
As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.
— Tobi Lutke 🌳🌲🛒🕹 (@tobi) May 21, 2020
He outlined that this means the work experience for all Shopify employees should be the same, regardless of where they are working from. The staff will be using digital communications tools to work together and hold meetings.
“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,” he tweeted.
Lutke says that the company hasn’t fully figured out the new plans, and notes that there is a lot of change ahead. Interestingly, he outlines that this change will allow the company to hire individuals from around the world, which is something that wasn’t possible before due to its previous default to proximity-based hiring.
Shopify is the first major Canadian company to announce a permanent shift to the digital workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see if more companies follow Shopify’s direction, and if we’ll see a shift in how teams remain productive in the digital age.