Teleworking: The enthusiasm of the tech giants is fading

Will the permanent telework revolution take place? The players in Silicon Valley seem to be going back on their statements made last year, in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

While many companies around the world are considering moving from working from home to a more hybrid model, the tech giants are starting to turn back the clock, and dampen their enthusiasm for permanent telecommuting.

Microsoft questions teleworking

Last July, Microsoft analyzed what was going on in its own organization and discovered some alarming facts. Example: 52% of company instant messages were sent between 6 p.m. and midnight.

More recently, the company has questioned whether we are hybrid ready and published a “Work Trend Index” which attempts to paint a more complete picture of the work and private life engendered by the crisis of the Covid.

The report says business leaders need to resist the temptation to view hybrid work as “the usual business” and argues that long-term assumptions will need to be rethought. “The choices you make today will impact your organization for years to come. It’s a time that requires a clear vision and a growth mindset, ”comments Jared Spataro, vice president of Microsoft 365.“ These decisions will impact everything from how you shape culture to how you attract and retain talent, to how you can better foster collaboration and innovation, ”he said.

Microsoft and Google bring their employees back to the office

The report also shows that 40% of the global workforce are planning to leave their employer this year, and 46% to move, now that it is possible for them to work remotely.

After having closed its premises during much of the health crisis, Microsoft is now considering their full reopening. And sets it as of July 6. As a reminder, Microsoft employees have been encouraged to telecommute at least half the time since September 2020.

On the Facebook side, Mark Zuckerberg announced in May 2020 that remote work was becoming permanent for a large number of employees in the pandemic context. The company announced last month that it will begin reopening some offices in the San Francisco Bay Area from May 2021. The other sites will then gradually reopen from July 2, reaching 50% of their capacity.

The BBC reports that last week, Fiona Cicconi, chief people officer of Google, wrote to company employees to announce that Google was advancing its schedule for returning to the office. From 1er September, employees wishing to telecommute for more than 14 days will have to apply, she said. Employees will also have to “live a reasonable distance” from offices.

Amazon plans a deferred international schedule

This reasoning seems to go against the statements made last year by the players in Silicon Valley, who defended the virtues of teleworking.

Amazon also issued a statement to its employees: “Our plan is to return to a culture of the office as a baseline. We believe that it allows us to invent, collaborate and learn together as effectively as possible ”.

The American e-commerce giant indicates that return to office times will vary from country to country, “depending on infection and vaccination rates.” The group says employees are already back in the office in many parts of Asia. In the United States, Amazon expects more people to return to the office “during the summer.” In some European countries, the company expects face-to-face work “to take longer due to recent setbacks.” As summer approaches, Amazon wants to develop plans that are more specific to each country.

Flexibility, a notion yet to be defined?

Spotify is among those who practice the most flexible models, notes the BBC. The company recently said its employees “will be able to work full time from home, from the office, or a combination of the two.” This choice must be considered on a case-by-case basis: “the exact combination of the way of working at home and at the office is a decision that each employee and his manager take together”. But the company adds that “there will likely be some adjustments to be made along the way.”

There is still a long way to go to define the right balance between teleworking and face-to-face work, and the notion of “flexibility” is specific to each of the companies wishing to take the turn of the hybrid model.

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