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The Silicon Valley Workplace Will Never Be the Same

Communal lunches, soda machines and the open-floor office may become relics.

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When the headquarters of Mission Bio reopens next week, employees will find many of the familiar perks they enjoyed before Silicon Valley went into lockdown have changed. Instead of the communal trays of catered lunches served a few times a week, each employee will get their own boxed meal. The snacks will remain free, but the soda machine and tub of almonds will be replaced with canned beverages, bottled water and individually wrapped protein bites. One new benefit: Every two weeks, the startup plans to provide Covid-19 tests onsite to any staff member who wants one.

Mission Bio is returning to the office sooner than most businesses in Northern California. Officials have extended stay-at-home orders through the end of May, and some of the largest technology companies have indicated that they may keep offices closed for even longer. Mission Bio, which develops cellular chemistry technology, said it decided to reopen after consulting local officials who determined that the startup’s cancer research qualifies as essential. “Cancer didn’t work from home,” said Nigel Beard, the chief technology officer.