Shopify CEO Announces It’ll Turn Into A Remote Company Permanently

In what’s probably the first of the many reactionary changes induced by CoViD19,  Shopify has announced that it would keep its offices closed until 2021 and then move to being an almost digital-office only permanently. Tobi Lutke, the CEO of the ecommerce backend company, announced this in a series of tweets today.

“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.” his tweet said.

“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. 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 #WFH setup.  A common misconception about company culture is that if you have a good one, you have to hold on to it. I believe this to be wrong. If you want to have a great culture, the trick is to evolve it forward with your environment. Take the best things with you from version to version. 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.”, the tweets went on to read.

The company’s career page has been updated to reflect the change. It now talks about how the change will affect current and future employees.  One of the benefits of going 100% remote is the opportunity for prospective employees from anywhere in the world to work for the company – an attractive prospect given how favourably the company  fares on likability and hire-ability factors on Glassdoor. Interestingly, Shopify currently has 40 openings across engineering, UX, design, data science and product management – a refreshing sight given the number of layoffs happening elsewhere.

However Shopify is probably one of the few winners of the CoViD19 situation in which most other companies have seen their revenues and sales plummet and face an uncertain future. In a world where social distancing is being practised with a missionary zeal and physical shopping is almost dead, online shopping has come out on tops. Shopify claims to have over 8,00,000 merchants using its platform, and the number has exponentially increased in the last 2 months. According to a report, Shopify’s Sales grew by 47% to $470 million from the same quarter a year ago. Each merchant pays a sales based commission to Shopify over and above a basic fee to Shopify per month. The more ecommerce grows, the better Shopify does.  

Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Albin Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake and is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. The company operates a cloud-based ecommerce platform that’s used by merchants to run business across all sales channels, including web, tablet and mobile storefronts, social media storefronts, and brick-and-mortar and pop-up shops. Many small to medium ecommerce businesses across the world today owe their existence to Shopify. One of those prominent names is Kylie Jenner who runs her $1billion beauty empire on a store created on Shopify. Shopify is also credited for bringing the drop-shipping phenomenon worldwide over the last 4-5 years. Due to its ease  of setup and use, it’s enabled people with no to basic tech skills to set up ecommerce stores, and its in-built shipping and labeling mechanism has helped them deal with the complex logistics, creating many a remote entrepreneur. In a way it’s only fitting that a company backing the culture of running businesses remotely should go 100% remote itself.

Shopify’s announcement comes quick on the heels of Twitter that just announced that it’ll let employees work from home permanently. 

In the wake of Corona Virus pandemic that’s led to extended lockdowns, self-practised quarantines and working from home, the work paradigm has slowly but surely adapted and changed in the process. In the absence of a vaccine and a constant threat of infection in the air, more companies have decided to increase their share of the work-from-home workforce, or go completely remote altogether. After reports of lower costs, lower emissions and even higher productivity have emerged, working remotely might just end up being a normal, post-pandemic norm.