Tech giants move to reopen offices, but different on combined work plans

Apple, Google, and Twitter have now set dates for reopening their offices, signaling the end of widespread work-from-home mode and the rollout of “hybrid” remote policies.

Like most organizations, each company closed corporate offices under social distancing measures during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, moving quickly to support remote work .

Now, having had their reopening delayed several times due to the ongoing pandemic, the three tech giants have outlined plans to reopen their offices, adopting policies that combine telework and telework. in the office for employees. The way those plans work out could shape what other, smaller companies do in response to changing expectations in the workplace.

“The tech giants are running the hybrid strategies they have been doing for a while,” said JP Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

Others have already begun their transition. With widespread vaccination among its employees, Microsoft has made announced reopening last monthwith workers returning to Washington state headquarters and other offices from February 28. the final stage of Microsoft’s “hybrid work journey” has been in development for almost two years.

While each company has its own approach to reopening and sets requirements for remote and in-person work, all have chosen not to return to pre-pandemic “normal” times. five days in the office for all employees.

Apple set its founding date: April 11

Apple’s requirement for employees to return to the office at least three days a week has been controversial with some employees, with petitions and public protests against the decision last year. But the company remains steadfast in its determination to bring employees back to its Cupertino headquarters, at least part-time.

In an email to staff watched by ‘The Verge’ last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook outlined a “phased” office that will reopen starting April 11. Initially, it will require employees to come to the office one day. a week; will move to two days a week from the third week of the transition period. “We will then begin full hybrid testing on May 23, with people coming into the office three days a week – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – and working flexibly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Friday if you want,” the email said.

Cook acknowledged that the request to return to the office may not be widespread, noting that, while many would welcome the opportunity to meet a colleague in person, “for others, it could also be An ominous change.

“I want you to know that we are committed to giving you the support and flexibility you need in this next phase – a commitment that begins with the gradual introduction of our hybrid pilot and includes includes the option to work remotely for up to four weeks a year,” he said.

Google will reopen on April 4

After most recently delaying plans to reopen offices on January 10 (following the arrival of the omicron variant COVID-19), Google is now slated to bring back employees on April 4, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters last week. The decision applies to employees at certain Google offices in the US, UK, and Asia-Pacific; Employees who are not ready to return to the office can apply for an extension.

According to Reuters, employees who come to the office must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved waiver, while unvaccinated workers will be allowed to choose to work remotely on a permanent basis. .

Google wants employees to be in the office about three days a week, although this can vary by team and role. However, the company approved thousands of applications from employees who wanted to work completely remotely permanently last year, Reportedly rejecting only 15% of requests.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has previously pledged to allow employees work temporarily outside of their main office location for up to four weeks a year.

Twitter reopens on March 15, but return is optional

Twitter’s approach differs from others in that, while offices will open next week, employees will be free to decide where they work.

“It has been almost two years since we closed our offices and travel and I am pleased to announce that we are ready to fully reopen for business travel and all of our offices. all over the world!” Parag CEO Agrawal said in a Twitter post last week, with office openings set to begin on March 15.

Agrawal, who replaced Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO in November, promised to honor the company’s commitment to supporting remote workers in the wake of the pandemic. “Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work, and that includes working full time from home,” he says. “The office every day? That also works. Some days at the office, some days at home? Of course.”

However, he also acknowledged the operational challenges of a hybrid remote control model. “Distributed work is going to be a lot harder,” says Agrawal. “Anyone who has joined a meeting remotely while everyone else is in a meeting knows this pain. There will be a lot of challenges in the coming months, and we need to be proactive, purposeful, learn and adapt.”

Despite these difficulties, Gownder thinks Twitter’s flexible approach will likely be favored by employees: a notable advantage in a tight labor market.

“Unlike other Twitters, Twitter will allow full flexibility – employees can work from wherever they want, including at home anytime, if they want to,” he said. “This can benefit the company in terms of employee retention and talent acquisition. Right now, in a time of continued massive layoffs due to high employee turnover, a key reason for enabling what Forrester calls Anywhere Work is competition for talent. ”

Forrester survey data shows that most companies (51%) plan to adopt a hybrid strategy, 15% plan to be “remote first” after the pandemic, and about a third ( 34%) will return to the office every day of the week.

Adam Preset, vice president of analytics for employee experience technology at Gartner, said the tech giants’ remote working strategies could have a broader impact.

“As the tech giants signal that they are ready to reopen offices, it stimulates conversations within different businesses about their own readiness,” he said. “Some explosive organizations or eager leaders are ready to do the same or stay ahead of the game. Others want to wait and see if Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter will have success stories to tell in the next few months.”

Different hybrid office models can have spillover effects; Recent surveys have shown that women and people of color are more likely to continue working from home. That may affect corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. Research has also highlighted the possibility of a “proximity bias,” in which employees who work from home may watch their careers get pushed aside because they are less valued by bosses and upper management.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Fry Electronics Team

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