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Water Cooler Creativity: Should Technicians Return to the Office?




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Technology companies that led telecommuting during a pandemic face new challenges in how, when, and even to bring isolated employees back to offices designed for teamwork. ..

Brent Heider, chief human resources officer for business software maker Salesforce and with around 65,000 employees worldwide, said this remote work period would be the most difficult year and a half of my career. I thought, but it wasn’t. Restoring everything the way you need it has proven to be even more difficult.

The transition was complicated by the rapid proliferation of delta variants. This confused the plans many tech companies had to bring back most workers before and after Labor Day weekend. Microsoft has postponed these dates to October, but Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other growing lists have already decided to wait until next year.

Given how they set the tone for remote work, tech companies’ reinstatement policies can have a spillover effect across other industries. The employer’s next step could redefine the way and where people work, predicts Laura Budlow, an assistant professor of economics at Columbia University who studies workplace issues.

Boudreau goes beyond the theme of remote work being temporary. The longer the pandemic, the harder it is to instruct employees to return to the office, especially full-time, she says.

Most tech jobs are tailored for remote work, as they typically revolve around digital and online products. However, most major tech companies argue that employees should be ready to work in the office a couple of days each week after the pandemic is over.

Key Reasons: Technology companies have long believed that employees in a physical space exchange ideas and create innovations that probably wouldn’t have happened on their own. That’s why tech giants have poured billions of dollars into corporate campuses dotted with fascinating concurrency areas aimed at luring employees out of cubicles and into casual clashes that turn into brainstorming sessions. It is one of.

However, the concept of water cooler innovation can be exaggerated, said Christy Lake, chief human resources officer at business software maker Twilio.

There’s no data to support what’s really happening in real life, but we all subscribe to it, Lake says. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle and tell people, oh, you have to go back to the office. Otherwise innovation will not occur.

Twilio will not bring most of its approximately 6,300 employees back to the office as early as early next year, and will be able to figure out how often most employees should join the company.

This hybrid approach, which allows employees to switch between remote and in-office work, is widely accepted by the technology industry, especially among the largest payroll companies.

Almost two-thirds of the more than 200 companies that responded to a mid-July survey in the technology-centric Bay Area said they expect employees to come to the office a couple of days a week. .. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of these employers required workers to be in the office, according to the Bay Area Council, a business policy group that commissioned polls.

Even Zoom, a Silicon Valley video conferencing service whose earnings and stock prices soared during the pandemic, says most employees still prefer to come to the office for some of their time. Kelly Steckelberg, Chief Financial Officer of Zooms, recently wrote in a blog post that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to returning to the office.

But the biggest tech companies that are making even more profits than Zoom as a pandemic that has made their products essential for many workers do not give their employees many choices of problems. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have revealed that most of their workers want to be together at least a few days a week to maintain their culture and pace of innovation.

That worn-out belief sounds like a negative idea for Ed Zitron, who runs a public relations firm that represents a tech company and has been completely remote since its launch in 2012.

The only reason to have an office is to satisfy managers who have a vested interest in grouping people so that they can see them and be satisfied with the people they own … This is so that you can enjoy that power.

The switch to hybrid work is ideal for people like Kelly Soderlund, the mother of two young children working in the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices of travel management firm Trip Actions, which employs around 1,200 people worldwide. .. She also missed the built-in buffer provided in about an hour’s commute between her personal and work life when the company partially reopened her office in June. I couldn’t wait to come back.

Without it, he wakes up in the morning to start work and takes his children to camp and day care, says Sodelland. Then I come back to work, then pick them up, cook dinner, and go back to work. So it always feels like it works.

Soderlund believes that being together in the office leads to more collaboration, but he also learned from the pandemic that workers don’t have to be there every day to achieve teamwork.

Gloria Chen, chief human resources officer for an old Silicon Valley company, said that one of the reasons business software maker Adobe employees have returned to the office is the need for friendship and telecommuting. It states. Working from home stays here, but we continue to value the gathering of people, she said.

The move from a pandemic will allow smaller tech companies to adopt more flexible telecommuting policies, separating top engineers from other companies that stick to staffing in the office, Colombia. Boudreau of the university said. Scholar.

Employees have more bargaining tips than for some time, as the labor market is currently relatively tight, Budlow said.

Ankur Dahiya, who launched software startup RunX during the pandemic blockade last year, believes that remote work helped hire employees who might not have been candidates otherwise. The eight-worker startup rents an office in San Francisco one day a week, so Dahya can meet nearby employees, while others are in Canada, Nevada, and Oregon. increase. Workers living outside California fly every three months for highly productive meetings and brainstorming, says Dahiya, who previously worked on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve been working in the office for the last 10 years and I know I’ve lost so much time, says Dahiya. It reminds me of random conversations, long meetings, purposeless wanderings, and other confusion that seems to occur in those settings.

Twilios Ms. Lake hopes that the experience of remote work will change the behavior of employees in the office. She wants the remote experience to give her employees a better understanding of how the team works.

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Above all, I think it’s more intentional about when, why, and how to get together, she says.

This story was reported by the Associated Press.




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