Canada's Shopify CEO says era of 'office centricity is over; most staff to permanently work from home

(Reuters) - The CEO of Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify Inc SHOP.TO declared on Thursday the end of "office centricity" and decided to keep company offices closed till 2021, allowing most employees to work remotely on a permanent basis after that.

FILE PHOTO: An employee works at Shopify's headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Ottawa-based Shopify, which briefly became Canada’s most valuable company earlier this month, had more than 5,000 employees and contractors worldwide as of December.

“As of today, Shopify is a digital by default,” Tobi Lutke, who is also the founder of Shopify, said in a tweet. “We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality.

“Office centricity is over.”

Shopify’s move comes as businesses adjust to the impact of COVID-19, which is also expected to reshape the future of office spaces after the pandemic retreats.

Shopify becomes the first major Canadian company to allow staff to work from home permanently, even as many large manufacturing companies, including Bombardier BBDb.TO, gradually bring back some of their workers following reopening plans announced by Canadian provinces.

U.S. tech firms Square Inc SQ.N and Twitter Inc TWTR.N also recently allowed employees to continue working from home permanently.

Facebook Inc FB.O and Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google are allowing most of their employees to work remotely until the end of this year.

Shopify, which has a market value of C$119 billion ($85 billion, is a seen by investors and analysts as a domestic success story in an era where many large high-tech companies have made their home in the United States’ Silicon Valley.

As COVID-19 pandemic shutdown large swaths of the Canadian economy, more consumers have moved to online shopping, increasing the appeal of companies like Shopify and making it popular among investors. The stock has jumped about 117% this year, compared with a 13% drop in the benchmark Canada stock index .GSPTSE.

Its shares were up 4.2% at midday, while the benchmark index was down 0.6%.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru, Denny Thomas in Toronto; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Aurora Ellis