Last week, Apple announced that it wanted employees to return to the Cupertino campus beginning in September to three days a week. Some employees who had used to the flexibility of working at home delayed.
Before the pandemic, with few exceptions, most employees went to the office on most days, but when COVID arrived in March 2020 and workers were forced to go home, employers quickly learned that their staff could be productive even when they weren’t sitting in the same building. . Now it seems that it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
Finding the perfect balance between a totally remote system and the definition of hybrid that a certain company defines, such as Apple some days at the office and others at home, will never be easy and there will never be a one-size-fits-all answer. In fact, progress is likely to be smooth.
Just to show how different companies are approaching this, we asked five other big tech companies besides Apple to see how they were treating the return to the office, and each was considering some form of hybrid work:
- Google is taking a similar approach to Apple with three days at the office and two days at home. “We will move to a hybrid workweek in which the majority of Google employees spend approximately three days in the office and two days where they work best. Since time in the office will be focused on collaboration, your product areas and functions will help decide which days teams will meet in the office. There will also be positions that may need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of the job, ”wrote Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet in a recent blog post.
- Salesforce is giving employees a wide set of options depending on your role. Most employees are able to work from home most of the time and can come to the office 1-3 days a week to collaborate with colleagues, meet with clients, or make presentations. Others who do not live near an office may be completely remote and those who choose, or whose work will require, will be office-based, arriving 4-5 days a week.
- Facebook is expanding remote work by telling employees: “Starting June 15, Facebook will open remote work to all levels of the company, and anyone whose role can be performed remotely can apply for remote work,” he wrote. the company to the employees.
- Microsoft leaves it up to managers, but most roles will be remote at least part of the time. As employees were told in an advertisement recently, “We recognize that some employees need to be on site and some roles and businesses are better suited to work outside the workplace than others. However, for most roles, we consider working from home part of the time (less than 50%) to be standard now, assuming the manager and the team are aligned. “
- Amazon was originally considering a mostly office policy, but announced this week that it had decided to offer employees more flexible work hours. “Our new baseline will be three days a week in the office (and the specific days will be determined by your leadership team), allowing you to work remotely for up to two days a week,” the company wrote in a message to employees.
Larger tech companies offer most employees some level of flexibility in deciding when to enter the office, but how do startups view work as we move into the post-pandemic? Most of the startups I speak to do not envision an office-centric approach and many take a remote-first approach. Andreessen Horowitz 226 startups recently surveyed In his portfolio and found that two-thirds of the portfolio companies are looking for a hybrid approach similar to that of their larger counterparts. In fact, 87 were thinking 1-2 days a week and 64 were not looking for an office at all, only meeting for business off-site. In contrast, only 18 said they would not allow any work from home.
Dion Hinchcliffe, an analyst at Constellation Research who has been studying distributed work for many years, says tech companies are more likely to adopt flexible work models now that they have seen how it works during the pandemic.
“Most tech companies will maintain a degree of flexibility when they return to the office, especially since it is popular with so many of their workers. Furthermore, concerns about lost productivity have turned out to be largely unfounded, ”he said. But he emphasized that this would not be true for all companies.
“Certain companies, especially those that believe they have a lot of intellectual property to protect or that operate other types of sensitive jobs, will be more reluctant to allow work to continue from home,” he said. This despite the fact that many of these companies have been doing just that for the past 15 months. Going hybrid like Apple has only further confused that argument.
“It definitely includes Apple, which has long been well known for discouraging working from home. Their new three-day-a-week policy at the office probably makes them feel a little more secure, but it really doesn’t, ”Hinchcliffe said.
Of course, companies can set policies, but that does not mean that they will not meet with objections from employees. Apple certainly learned that. Workers seem to want to be the ones who choose where to work, not their employers, and it could well be a competitive advantage to offer work-from-home options, especially in a tight labor market where power seems to be shifting to employees.
It should be interesting to see where this is all going and how much power employees have to push their companies towards their ideal of more flexible work. For now, most companies will have a much greater degree of flexibility than before the pandemic, but certainly not everyone wants people to work from home all the time forever, and companies will need to decide what works. better for them and their employees.