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May 21, 2020updated 22 May 2020 10:39am

Shopify CEO: The Office is Dead

"We cannot go back to the way things were"

By CBR Staff Writer

The CEO of NYSE-listed Shopify, an ecommerce platform provider, says it will keep offices closed until 2021 — CEO Tobi Lutke adding that “office centricity is over”.

As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company” he said.

Shopify, which generated $1.578 billion in sales in 2019 from a customer base of over a million merchants, said it would be fundamentally rethinking its approach to offices.

CEO Lutke said today: “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… COVID is challenging us all to work together in new ways.

He added: “We cannot go back to the way things were. This isn’t a choice; this is the future.”

(Canada-based Shopify employs some 5,000 staff from 17 offices in 12 countries, including the UK).

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The move came as British firm Dyson today was forced to pull a U-turn on plans to send staff back to its offices, after what the Guardian described as a “revolt” by employees.

Tech firms, including Twitter, have been emphasising that they see the shift to working from home becoming semi-permanent, if not outright permanent for most staff.

SSE Energy Services CIO Phil Clayson meanwhile told Computer Business Review during our recent CIO Symposium that his company was reassessing leases as it rethinks its real estate footprint.

Shopify CEO Lutke added on Twitter: “We haven’t figured this whole thing out. There is a lot of change ahead, but that is what we’re good at. There are silver linings: we now have the opportunity to be joined by a whole lot of incredible individuals from around the world that otherwise couldn’t because of our previous default to proximity.

The company’s Q1 results, reported May 6, showed that the number of new stores created on the Shopify platform grew 62 percent between March 13, 2020 and April 24, 2020 compared to the prior six weeks, “driven by the shift of commerce to online as well” as by the extension of free trial
period on standard plans to 90 days.

“By the way”, he added, “we’re hiring”.


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