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NextGen Magazine


Companies Use Both Honey and Vinegar to Get Employees to Return to the Office

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jun 9, 2023

Companies are instituting a number of methods to get employees to return to the office, The Washington Post reported.

The methods range from threats to incentives. Google asked workers to come in three days a week, offering perquisites such as free food and other perks, but it has now told them that compliance with the three-day requirement is linked to their performance reviews. Farmers Insurance asked its workers to return to offices three days a week starting in September, even after they were told last year that remote work was permanent, an edict that prompted a revolt, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Salesforce tried another tactic, saying that it will donate to local charities for each day workers come into the office later this month.

Despite recent return-to-office mandates by corporations such as Disney, Starbucks and AT&T, office occupancy rates remain below 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels in major metropolitan areas around the country, according to data tracked by Kastle Systems.

Google’s offices, including a new one in California, are under capacity, the Post reported. “We’ve heard from Googlers that those who spend at least three days a week in the office feel more connected to other Googlers, and that this effect is magnified when teammates work from the same location,” Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi said in the attendance and performance review memo, which was obtained by the Post. “Of course, not everyone believes in ‘magical hallway conversations,’ but there’s no question that working together in the same room makes a positive difference.”

One anonymous Google employee told the Post that the company's new policy could lead to many more workers quitting or being fired, adding to the thousands Google laid off in January.

Salesforce’s tack is meant to appeal to the workers’ altruistic impulses, according to the Post. “Giving back is deeply embedded in everything we do, and we’re proud to introduce Connect for Good to encourage employees to help raise $1 million for local nonprofits,” Annie Vincent, its director of corporate communications, said in a statement to the Post.

Farmers Insurance now requires employees who live within 50 miles of an office to come in to that office three days a week, starting in September. The mandate is meant to “foster greater collaboration, creativity and innovation while also providing better opportunities for learning, training, mentoring, career development and organic interaction,” spokesperson Carly Kraft told the Post. She added that while remote work made sense when the pandemic began, a hybrid approach works best for the company now.

One expert believes that office mandates are not enough to create stronger company cultures. “Sure, people will comply [with return-to-office mandates] because they don’t want to lose their jobs, but is that an engaged, focused, intentional way of working for somebody?” flexible work strategist Cali Williams Yost asked.