Amid a second round of sweeping layoffs, Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is now encouraging staff to “find more opportunities to work with your colleagues in person.”
Meta is the latest high-profile company to walk back lenient work-from-home policies and call workers back to the office in 2023, joining others like Amazon.com Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Walt Disney Co.
The orders come as office occupancy across the US this year broke 50% for the first time since the pandemic began and CEOs like JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon continue to reject remote work. Working from home “doesn’t work” for managers or younger staff, Dimon said recently.
This year’s return-to-office policies follow 2022’s mandates from the likes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Apple Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. (Last year Bloomberg LP required its workers to return to the office a minimum of three days a week.)
Some executives have tried to rebrand the effort to get people to show up in person, emphasizing continued commitments to virtues like flexibility while sounding familiar notes around the office’s centrality to “creativity,” “collaboration” and “culture.” Meanwhile, speculation has arisen about other reasons executives want workers back in person, like keeping corporate tax breaks.
Here’s a running list of major companies ordering workers back to their desks in 2023:
- 1, Amazon.com Inc. The company has told employees to return to offices three days a week starting May 1. That’s after CEO Andy Jassy said in October that managers would be able to decide how often, if at all, their staff should come in. “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,” Jassy said on the company’s blog. The order came on the heels of a mass layoff of some 18,000 employees, and took many by surprise.
- General Motors Co. The automaker set a return-to-office date of Jan. 30, requiring employees to report to offices three days a week. The announcement caused an uproar among corporate employees, catching many off-guard. The new requirement seemed to walk back the firm’s “Work Appropriately” policy, which most took as a vote of confidence in staff to work the hours and in the places that best suit them.
- Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to let go another 10,000 workers and close 5,000 open roles this spring in another round of deep cuts following the company’s first large-scale layoff of 11,000 employees in the fall. While Meta was one of the first tech companies to offer all of its employees the ability to work from home, Zuckerberg is now encouraging staff to “find more opportunities to work with your colleagues in person.”
- News Corp. The publisher of the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers has issued a memo to its workforce encouraging them to return to the office for the “subtleties of body language and the nuances of knowing glances,” for which working from home does not allow. Though CEO Robert Thomson conveyed his desire for staff to come in more than they are now, the company has remained vague about exactly how many days employees are expected to show up. “There is some room for flexibility in the work environment, but that flexibility is not boundless,” Thomson said in the memo. “Attendance is an absolute imperative as collaboration and cooperation are priorities for each of our businesses.”
- Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel told staff they were expected to report to the office four days a week in February, a policy he calls “default together.” The mandate comes after the the developer of Snapchat and other social media platforms laid off 20% of its workforce in August. “What each of us may sacrifice in terms of our individual convenience, I believe we will reap in terms of our collective success,” Spiegel wrote in a memo. “We’ve been working this way for so long that I’m afraid we’ve forgotten what we’ve lost – and what we could gain – by spending more time together.”
- Starbucks Corp. Interim CEO Howard Schultz ordered corporate workers back to offices three days a week in January. Schultz said corporate staff “made a promise” last year to be in the office one to two days a week, but that badging data has shown that many have fallen short. The policy is now a requirement, Schultz said: “It’s that critical to our business success.”
- Walmart Inc. The company will close tech offices in Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Carlsbad, California, requiring affected employees to relocate to the company’s other offices, including one in San Bruno, California, or its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where they will need to report to the office at least twice a week. Those who choose to leave the company as a result of the closures will receive severance pay, according to an internal memo.
- Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger, who returned to lead the company in November, has handed down a four-day in-office mandate starting March 1, one of the strictest so far outside Wall Street. The announcement comes after the company said it would cut 7,000 jobs. In his first meeting with employees after returning last year, Iger said he planned to spend lots of hours in the office and joked he hoped he wouldn’t be lonely. “In a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that comes from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors,” Iger said in the memo announcing the policy.
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