Is it Worth Pushing for a Return to Office?

Now, you may or may not have already made the transition back to the office, and this really applies more to those who haven’t yet. However, even those who have may find some utility here—specifically, in determining if a push to a full return to office was the right move.

Let’s explore how today’s employees may react to the news that remote work will no longer be an option.

We don’t have to treat this question as a hypothetical, either. We have actual examples to consider, in terms of how employees have responded to such news.

Mandatory RTO Hasn’t Been Taken Well in the Recent Past

There have been a number of companies that, having successfully implemented remote work when it was deemed necessary for safe operations, elected to roll back these capabilities.

  • In May 2021, Jamie Dimon—CEO of JPMorgan—claimed that remote work “doesn’t work for people who want to hustle,” and that it also “doesn’t work for culture, doesn’t work for idea generation.” However, by April of this year, Dimon had conceded that only half of his entire workforce will return to the office full-time, with 10% remaining as full-time remote employees.
  • In April, Apple mandated that all employees needed to be in the office at least three days each week. The employees responded by forming a group (“Apple Together”) and publishing an open letter criticizing the executives’ decision.
  • In March, David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, insisted that the company’s employees make the shift back to the office full-time. Only half of the company’s employees did so.
  • Recently, Google Maps and the tech company Cognizant were convinced by their employees’ petition against a return to their Bothell, Washington offices, pushing their RTO date from June 6th to September 6th.
  • Finally—and perhaps most noticeably—Elon Musk has vocally come out against Tesla employees working from home, after emails leaked from Musk that stated, “Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla.” He then doubled down on his statements by saying people who thought coming into work is an antiquated concept should “pretend to work somewhere else.”

Ouch. However, this all shows another form of resistance—not just the resistance that these employers still have against remote work, but the resistance that employees have against these return to office mandates. Many companies have taken note of this and have taken the opposite tack as the above, instead offering perks and special events for those willing to come back.

Naturally, larger companies are able to do significant things to draw in their team members. Microsoft treated its employees in Redmond to a variety of perks—concerts by local bands, terrarium-making classes, and beer and wine tastings. Qualcomm (who makes the chips that may very well power the device you’re reading this on now) welcomed their employees back with a happy hour, and began numerous events and pop-up activities for team members.

Of course, such activities are almost assuredly out of reach for small businesses.

Therefore, It’s Important that You Remain Flexible, If Only to Avoid Pushback

With unprecedented acceptance of remote work in the job market right now, you need to give your employees the level of workplace flexibility they want. The technologies that enable hybrid operations will be fundamental to doing so, which is something that we can help you implement. Reach out to us today to find out what we can offer to support your business, whether your operations are in-house, remote, or hybrid. Give us a call at (646) 741-1166.

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