Shopify moving "vast majority" of employees to permanent remote work


Shopify has announced that it is now a “digital by default” company, meaning the majority of its employees will permanently work remotely.

The company said it is still to retaining its current and future “recruitment hubs” across the country.

The e-commerce giant’s more than 5,000 employees are currently working from home, and will continue to do so for the remainder of 2020. Its offices will be closed until 2021, and when 2020 ends, the “vast majority of the company” will continue to work remotely permanently, Shopify said.

In a statement to BetaKit, chief talent officer Brittany Forsyth said as the company moves to a decentralized way of working, it is still committed to retaining its current and future “recruitment hubs” in Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver.

The statement reflects a dramatic shift in Shopify’s approach to work following the COVID-19 pandemic. While the company has maintained a commitment to physical presence in cities across North America, Forsyth’s statement makes it clear that Shopify sees them no longer as workplaces, but pools through which to draw local ecosystem talent.

“In terms of recruitment hubs, in each of our core cities in Canada, we will have a space that local employees can visit, while still allowing us to hire across the country for a decentralized, remote way of working,” a Shopify spokesperson told BetaKit.

Shopify said its offices will be “redesigned to empower new ways of collaborating and learning from each other,” and that the company will be investing in new tools to enable the team to work effectively.

“Everything about our culture from thriving on change, to building for the long term, to our focus on anti-fragility, has set the foundation for this decision,” said Forsyth. “This is a chance for us to lean into new ways of working, tap into new talent wherever they are, and help our merchants around the globe adapt to a new reality.”

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The decision comes several months after Shopify announced plans to open a 900,000 square-foot office in Vancouver, along with plans to hire 1,000 new employees in the city. A year ago, the company opened another Toronto office and concurrently stated plans to double its employees in Toronto to 1,500 by 2022. That office marked Shopify’s third location in the city since it moved there in 2012. This was part of a $500 million commitment to expand its Toronto presence.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 4.7 million Canadians who didn’t normally work remotely found themselves forced to telecommute to work on the week of March 22, according to figures from Statistics Canada.

“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,” said CEO Tobi Lütke. “This will reverse now. 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.


Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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