Many Silicon Valley companies are currently experiencing a new and more difficult challenge than last year’s remote work experiment, and that is to estimate how and when they should bring their employees back to the office. Or in other cases, if they should bring them back at all.
During 2020 most companies were forced to work remotely to keep their businesses afloat. The results were surprising, as big tech names such as Square and Salesforce, by experiencing more productivity and engaged employees, decided to provide them with flexible arrangements.
In few cases, they let employees choose to work remotely permanently. In most cases, the arrangements consist of a hybrid model that balances remote and onsite work. However, calling employees back to the offices has been more challenging than most Silicon Valley companies thought.
Are Employees Going Back to the Office?
Salesforce was one of the first Silicon Valley companies to announce its flexible plans. Marc Benioff told CNBC that they expect 60% of the staff to work remotely when the pandemic ends.
In a recent statement, Brent Hyder, Salesforce’s chief people offer business software, mentioned how getting back to ‘’normal’’ has been more challenging:
I thought this period of remote work would be the most challenging year-and-half of my career, but it’s not. Getting everything started back up the way it needs to be is proving to be even more difficult.
The transition has also been challenging because of the uncertainty regarding Covid-19. For instance, the rapid spread of the delta variant has made companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon wait until next year to return to the office.
Laura Boudreau, a Columbia University assistant economics professor, mentioned that companies across industries realize that remote work is no longer a temporary thing. As lockdowns and the pandemic continues to stretch, employees don’t see themselves returning to the office permanently.
This mindset change is particularly harder in Silicon Valley, where most tech companies have invested billions in infrastructures because they believe that innovation and creativity happen onsite, where people exchange ideas directly. But now, with different tools and employees fighting for remote work rights, the way teams collaborate could change forever.