Will tech companies begin to reverse their remote- and hybrid-work policies?
According to a new report in TechCrunch, Salesforce has been pushing employees to return to the office, although the company insists such decisions are up to individual managers. The cloud-based CRM company is under withering fire from activist investors to boost its stock price and revenue, and CEO Marc Benioff has complained that a lack of in-office culture might be translating into lower productivity among newer employees.
That’s quite a sea change from two years ago, when Salesforce announced that its employees would have three options for working: flexible schedules (i.e., in the office 1-3 days per week), full-time remote, or fully office-based. “Our talent strategy is no longer bound by barriers like location, so we can broaden our search beyond traditional city centers and welcome untapped talent from new communities and geographies,” the company wrote in a blog posting at the time. “And creating more flexible schedules removes hurdles that may make it more difficult to be in the office daily—from picking up kids to caring for sick family members.”
At the time, it seemed like remote work was truly the way of the future. Twitter employees were told they could work from home “forever,” while other tech companies began to reduce their office footprints.
But while exact numbers are hard to come by, it seems that more companies are asking their tech professionals to return to the office at least part of the time. Walmart, for example, recently demanded its tech staff commute to their office desks for at least a few days per week, along with Disney, Apple, and other big brands. Meanwhile, the number of open all-remote tech jobs dipped before leveling off somewhat in January.
For companies that decide to embrace hybrid work, there’s good news: multiple surveys have shown that tech professionals (especially younger ones) like the prospect of coming into the office for a few days per week. Hybrid work offers the chance for in-person mentorship and interaction while preserving at least some of the flexibility of working from home. Moreover, it’s already the culture at many companies: last year’s edition of Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Salary found that 42 percent of developers had a hybrid work setup.
But tech professionals generally dislike the idea of returning to the office five days per week. While some executives may believe that full-time office work will boost productivity and even team camaraderie, they’ll have to be careful about the impact on morale—and retention.