Facebook employees will not be summoned back to their company's offices come January 31 as was previously planned, following concerns over the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Instead, employees may continue to work from home until the pandemic meaningfully subsides.
Meta, the recently renamed parent company of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other subsidiaries, on Tuesday announced changes to the company's return-to-office plans, including its "office deferral program."
Under the arrangement, employees who are ready to return to offices may do so on January 31, while those who are not yet comfortable returning may continue working from home for a three- to five-month period, a Meta spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.
"For those wishing to return in January we look forward to providing a vibrant office experience that continues to prioritize health and safety. We also recognize that some aren't quite ready to come back," said Janelle Gale, Meta's vice president of human resources.
Gale said Meta is allowing U.S. and Canada-based employees who are hesitant to return to choose where they work, at least on a temporary basis. Meta employs roughly 50,000 people worldwide.
Since May 2020, Meta employees, including those who work for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, have had the option to request full-time remote work, if their job can be performed remotely. The company has also said it will adjust salaries for full-time remote workers who relocate to lower cost regions.
The technology giant's softened stance on bringing workers back to the offices in January comes as public health officials express concerns over the arrival of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which studies show can evade vaccines.
The Meta announcement comes after other industry leaders, including fellow tech giant Google and automaker Ford both announced they will miss their January target dates for bringing workers back to the companies' offices.