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The future of work is remote

The pandemic has brought about unprecedented change over the past two plus years. While we expected some things would go back to the way they were before, early on it became abundantly clear to us that the way we work has gone through a major transformation. Over time we came to realize that the future of work at Yelp is remote. It’s best for our employees, and for our business. Today, I shared with our team why Yelp is leading the way in creating the workplace of the future.

We learned that we could not only effectively operate our business as a distributed remote workplace, but that our people could thrive and be just as, if not more, productive while remote. Employees are more satisfied working remotely as they can spend precious time they would have otherwise spent commuting doing the things they love with the people who mean the most to them. In surveying our own employees, 86% of respondents said they’d prefer to work remotely most or all of the time, 87% report that working remotely has made them more effective at work, and 93% of employees and their managers report they can meet their goals remotely. Our record revenue in 2021, which carried through to our first quarter results this year, demonstrate just how productive we are in a remote work environment.

The most telling signal for us that people strongly prefer remote work has been the under-utilization of our offices. When we started reopening offices over the past nine months we chose not to set a “return to work” date. Instead, we piloted a remote-first approach to give people an option to use an office if they wanted to do so. We’ve since learned that the vast majority didn’t need the space. Globally, about 1% of our workforce is choosing to come into the office every day. After observing how employees have been using our offices, we’ve decided to close our most consistently underutilized offices on July 29, in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C., as well as reduce our footprint in Phoenix. Combined, the three offices we’re closing saw a weekly average utilization of less than 2% of the available workspaces. 

As we continue to embrace a fully remote workplace and design the future of remote work at Yelp, we plan to re-allocate resources towards our employee experience, new talent, and the growth of our business. Additionally, our in-person gatherings will continue to evolve as we reimagine the long-held paradigms around work.  

I’ve shared my thoughts on why forcing people back to the office, even in a hybrid model, is the wrong approach. It requires employees to live near an office, potentially driving up their housing costs, and to endure unpaid time spent commuting. It also means hiring is artificially constrained by geography, translating to a smaller and less diverse pool of talent. Our workforce was previously concentrated in the areas where we have offices, and now we have employees spread across every state in the U.S. and four countries. We also hired two remote C-level executives in geographies with no Yelp offices, and have been seeing a strong surge in candidate applications, with many noting that remote work is part of the reason they’re drawn to the company and role. 

When you’re a company founded on the idea of connecting people with great local businesses, having employees in communities all over the world ties directly to our mission. Yelp continues to experience the benefits of a remote workplace and it’s the clear path forward for us. We’re excited to continue to design the future of remote work at Yelp together with our employees.