Main image of article Meta Leans into Big Tech Hybrid Work Trend

Meta has become the latest tech giant to demand employees return to the office three days per week.

Google, Amazon, Salesforce and Apple have already enacted similar policies. Even Zoom, which positioned its products as vital tools for remote workers during the pandemic, recently asked its employees to return to their office desks for at least a portion of the week (provided they live within 50 miles of an office).

“We believe that distributed work will continue to be important in the future, particularly as our technology improves,” a Meta spokesperson told CNBC when asked about the hybrid-work policy. “In the near-term, our in-person focus is designed to support a strong, valuable experience for our people who have chosen to work from the office, and we’re being thoughtful and intentional about where we invest in remote work.”

It’s important to keep an eye on what Meta and other companies are doing, because their policies often trickle down to smaller tech companies. At the height of the pandemic, many of these tech giants suggested all-remote work as the future; now, it seems that getting employees back onto campus is a priority.  

Much of that cultural shift has to do with an increasing sense among executives that in-person work boosts productivity and motivation. “Teams tend to be better connected to one another when they see each other in person more frequently,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a Feb. 17 memo to employees. “There is something about being face-to-face with somebody, looking them in the eye, and seeing they’re fully immersed in whatever you’re discussing that bonds people together.” 

But what if you’re a remote worker and you don’t want to go back to the office? Fortunately, you might have some opportunity to negotiate, depending on your company and manager. Here are some key steps:

First, define what you want. Are you willing to come into the office for a few days per week, or do you want to never come in? Are you flexible about how many days, which days, etc.? Writing down your parameters is a helpful step before actually talking to your boss.

Second, show the benefits. Remote work can benefit people who prize flexible schedules, of course. But how will you working remotely benefit the company? Perhaps you work more hours remotely; or maybe your home setup has certain capabilities you’re missing at the office. It’s vital to show how remote work is mutually beneficial for you and your employer.

Third, propose a trial or “A/B test.” Anticipate that your boss might not be sold on your arguments. In that case, come prepared with a “trial run” or “A/B test,” where you’ll work remotely for a limited time. Make sure this trial has some goals and KPIs attached to it; assure your boss that you’ll agree to follow the outcome that’s best for you and your employer.

Fourth, get your narrative right... and prepare for a counteroffer. Before your meeting, prepare a presentation breaking down your key points. Rehearse what you’ll say. If you’re polished, you’re more likely to secure at least some wiggle room in a negotiation—and it could very well become a hard negotiation. Your boss may agree to remote or hybrid work if you’re willing to take on additional responsibilities or adjust your work schedule, for instance; be prepared to be flexible.

In survey after survey, tech professionals have indicated that they like hybrid work, particularly younger tech pros who value mentorship and collaboration. You can absolutely love all-remote work, but coming back to the office can have its benefits—even if you only return for a few days per week.