Solomon Amar, CEO AllSTARSITyour trusted Offshore Development Partner
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things. One was how millions of employees approached their work practices. Many people were sent home to work, and so the revolution happened.
As the pandemic progressed, people continued to work outside the office. Some didn’t like this new life of isolation, but many adapted well to the new reality. Some companies also adapted, while others had serious reservations about the absence of their staff from the office.
Then, in the first quarter of 2022, the pandemic eased. Discontinued may be too strong a word at this point, but Covid in many ways about how we work and function is now almost a bad memory. And as the risk of contagion diminished, the companies that mistrusted the efficiency of their workforce while working remotely were quick to confirm their views.
Many companies wanted people to return to the office. Only now, after more than two years of pandemic-induced caution, had the balance of power shifted. Employees will no longer be forced to return to a central office after more than 24 months of proving that it is possible to work remotely and be as efficient as sitting at a desk in a downtown high-rise building. Maybe even more. Some companies persisted. many stop without looking back.
But why this tenacious 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?
The post-covid workplace
In a poll by the ADP, “64% of employees 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 employees don’t see real benefits from working in the office when the work can be easily and effectively done elsewhere.
To put all this into perspective, let’s look at two companies on opposite sides of the remote working spectrum: Apple, which advocates a return to the office, and Airbnb, which doesn’t.
Case Studies: Apple and Airbnb
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as the company’s fortunes soared, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed the company could allow flexibility in work practices in the future. Still, he nuanced that statement by saying that he still saw the value of teams working together personally.
By the summer of 2021, Mr. Cook had changed his tone. In an email to staff, he asked people to return to the office at least three days a week, with the option to work remotely the other two days. Employees expressed their concerns about this policy in an open letter. Some are pushing back against the company got mad†
At the time of writing, Apple is pushing for this hybrid model, but the final plan is still moving†
In recent days, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent out a company-wide email detailing the company’s post-Covid work strategy. The employees were told that they can choose where they want to work: the office, their home or move anywhere in the country and their salary will remain exactly as it was.
The CEO said:“If we were to limit our talent pool to a living-work area 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” from September for up to 90 days a year.
Throughout the pandemic, Airbnb had argued for a flexible arrangement. But instead of ending this arrangement at the end of the Covid threat, Chesky’s email confirms that such an arrangement is instead a long-term commitment.
Why do some companies want to end the remote working policy?
Every technology company is unique. Company policies, culture, financial status and many other factors can influence decisions, so there cannot be a “one size fits all” approach to working practices for every company.
But as the pandemic draws to a close, many companies have decided to end the remote working patterns 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 made it popular:Lack of coordinationsaid former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong’s, and “Speed and quality are often sacrificed,” Yahoo said in a leaked memo signed by former HR director Jackie Reses.
So which working model will emerge as the winner in the future? Completely remote? Back at the office? Or maybe a hybrid model? Only time will tell, and as mentioned before, one-size-fits-all solutions will never work when it comes to work practices.
To decide for yourself which model suits your company best, you can ask yourself a number of questions. For example, are you losing potential candidates because you don’t want to think about remote work? Would your processes be affected by remote working? If so, how? What can be done to alleviate this situation? What will yield the most benefits for the company in five years’ time? How can you change your processes or invest in the office environment? These are all valid and important questions, and their implications can be huge.
In the long run, I think the companies with the most flexible approach will win in the workplace. I am a strong proponent of work format choice and believe that employees whose work permits it should be allowed to choose where they want to work. At the same time, providing an office can provide a central hub where people can choose to work and enjoy the facilities, benefits and company of colleagues.
In the past 24 months, companies have invested heavily in increasing the benefits for people who prefer to work remotely all the time. In this way, you can ensure that remote teams feel integrated into the corporate culture and receive the same benefits and benefits as those in the office.