This spring, Okta told employees they could choose not to return to the office until a vaccine or effective treatment to Covid-19 has been developed. The announcement reflected partial steps toward a plan for remote work that Okta had started discussing the year before, said Todd McKinnon, Okta’s CEO, in an interview. But the pandemic’s enduring effects, along with recent US immigration restrictions announced by President Donald Trump, have sped up those plans.
“We’re very fortunate in that the whole premise of our product is ‘boundary-less work environments,'” McKinnon said.
Another group of foreign-born employees asked to work remotely full-time because they feared the uncertainty created by the administration’s policies, according to McKinnon, who described himself as “frustrated” by the rules.
“Directly because of what the US administration is doing, it’s led them to not want to have to deal with the problem and we’ve been able to move them to other countries, like Canada,” McKinnon said. “Maybe their visa is coming up in a year, or they’re concerned about the green card process, so they’re moving to a different country. But it’s a shame for the US.”
Other factors encouraging Okta to shift to permanent remote work included workers’ growing comfort with technology and economic trends such as the high costs of living in New York and San Francisco, according to an internal presentation reviewed by CNN.
Okta’s internal surveys showed strong demand for more work-from-anywhere flexibility. Roughly eight in 10 employees said they would feel as or more productive working remotely than in the office, according to data the company collected in 2019. Just 17% said they would prefer to work five days a week inside an office.
That process will account for local costs of living, how long an employee has worked at the company and an area’s comparable benefits and salaries.
Still, said McKinnon, as more companies shift to permanent remote work, the less local geography will play a role in compensation and the more pay will again be defined by a worker’s qualifications.
“You’ll see more consistent salaries around the world,” McKinnon said. “Facebook is going to hire an engineer in Raleigh, just like we will. The determinant will not be what the cost of living in Raleigh is, but what Facebook or Okta will pay.”