OTTAWA -- Shopify’s 5,000 employees will be able to continue working at home when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

CEO Tobi Lutke announced Thursday morning “as of today, Shopify is a digital by default company”, and offices will remain closed until 2021 as the company re-designs them for a “new reality” of working remotely.

The Ottawa-based e-commerce giant moved to a remote-first company on March 16 as COVID-19 restrictions were put in place across the country.

On Twitter Thursday morning, Lutke announced “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.”

“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 (work from home) setup.”

Lutke says COVID-19 is “challenging us all to work together in new ways.”

“We haven’t figured this whole thing out. There is a lot of change ahead, but that is what we’re good at. ‘Thrive on change’ is written on our (now digital) walls for a reason.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, a Shopify spokesperson said the decision to stay closed until 2021 and shift to digital by default is the first step.

“We have a lot of details to work through and our team will be working hard to map out how and when teams will come together.”

There will still be space for local employees to visit in Ottawa and other Canadian cities.

Shopify says it’s also “committed to retaining recruitment hubs in our current and future Canadian markets – Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal and shortly Vancouver – as well as other global locations.”

The company announced in November that it had surpassed the 1,000-employee mark in its Ottawa offices.

Shopify also has offices in Toronto, Waterloo and Montreal, as well as in the U.S. and overseas.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond.