Solomon Amar, CEO AllSTARSIT, your trusted Offshore Development Partner
The Covid-19 pandemic changed many things. Among them was how millions of employees approached their work practices. Many people were sent home to work, and just like that, the revolution happened.
As the pandemic progressed, people kept working away from the office. Some didn’t like this new life of isolation, but many adapted well to the new reality. Some companies adapted too, while others held deep reservations about their staff being absent from the office.
Then, during the first quarter of 2022, the pandemic subsided. Ended is perhaps too strong a word at this point in time, but Covid in many respects to how we operate and function is almost a bad memory now. And as the risk of contagion diminished, those companies that held distrust in their staff’s efficiency while working remotely were quick to reassert their views.
Many companies wanted people to return to the office. Only now, after more than two years of pandemic-induced caution, the balance of power had shifted. Staff will no longer be coerced into returning to a central office after proving for more than 24 months that it is possible to work remotely and be just as efficient as sitting at a desk in a downtown high rise. Perhaps even more. Some companies persisted. Many quit without looking back.
But why this dogged determination to force staff into a situation they don’t want to be in? What is the motivation for companies to return to the old ways?
The Post-Covid Workplace
In a poll by the ADP, “64% of workers would consider quitting if asked to return to the office full-time.”
This is an astonishingly high figure. This means that a vast majority of staff cannot see any actual benefits to working in the office when the work can easily and effectively be done somewhere else.
To put all this into perspective, let’s look at two companies on opposite sides of the remote work spectrum: Apple, which advocates a return to the office, and Airbnb, which does not.
Case Studies: Apple And Airbnb
At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as the company’s fortunes soared, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook claimed that the firm could allow for flexibility in work practices going forward. Still, he nuanced that statement by saying that he still saw the value of teams working together in person.
By the summer of 2021, Mr. Cook had changed his tune. In an email sent to staff, he asked people to return to the office for at least three days a week, with the possibility of working remotely the other two days. In an open letter, staff expressed their concerns about this policy. Some push back against the company became fierce.
At the time of writing, Apple is pushing for this hybrid model, but the final plan is still in flux.
In recent days, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky sent a companywide email laying out the post-Covid work strategy for the company. The employees were informed that they can choose where to work from: the office, their home or move anywhere in the country and their salaries will remain exactly as they were.
The CEO said: “If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area.” He added that employees would have “the flexibility to travel and work around the world” starting in September for up to 90 days per year.
All throughout the pandemic, Airbnb had advocated for a flexible arrangement. But instead of ending this arrangement at the end of the Covid threat, Chesky’s email confirms that such arrangement is instead a long-term commitment.
Why Do Some Companies Want To End Remote Working Policies?
Every tech company is unique. Corporate policies, culture, financial status and many other factors might affect decisions, so there cannot be a “one size fits all” type approach to work practices for every company.
But as the pandemic nears its end, many companies have decided to end the remote work patterns that have come to be so cherished by many worldwide. Not everyone gives a specific reason for it, but here are two companies that gave reasons for ending remote work years before the pandemic popularized it: “Lack of coordination,” according to Reddit’s former CEO, Yishan Wong’s, and “Speed and quality are often sacrificed,” according to Yahoo in a leaked memo signed by former HR director Jackie Reses.
So which working model will emerge as the winner going forward? Fully remote? Back in the office? Or perhaps a hybrid model? Only time will tell, and as previously mentioned, one-size-fits-all solutions will never work when it comes to working practices.
When deciding for yourself what model works best for your company, you can ask yourself several questions. For example, are you losing potential candidates because you are unwilling to consider remote work? Would your processes suffer because of remote work? If so, how? What can be done to alleviate this situation? What will bring the most benefits for the company in five years’ time? How can you change your processes or invest in the office environment? All these are valid and important questions, and their implications can be huge.
In the long run, I believe the companies with the most flexible approach will stand victorious in the workplace arena. I strongly advocate the choice of work format and believe workers whose work allows it should be empowered to choose where to work from. At the same time, providing an office can give a central hub where people can choose to work and enjoy the facilities, perks and the company of fellow workers.
Over the past 24 months, companies have invested a lot in increasing benefits for people whose preference is to work remotely all the time. In this way, you can ensure that remote teams feel included in corporate culture and that they receive the same perks and benefits of those in the office.