How Tech Companies Are Trying to Woo Employees Returning to Work

When Google employees returned to their mostly vacant office this month, they were told to rest. Office hours should be “not only productive, but also entertaining.” Explore the place a little. Do not book back-to-back meetings.

Also, don’t forget to attend Lizo’s private show, one of the hottest pop stars in the country. If that’s not enough, the company is also hosting “pop-up events” featuring “Every Googler’s Favorite Pair: Food and Swag”.

But Google employees in Boulder, Colo., Still remember what they were leaving when the company gave them mouse pads with the image of a sad-eyed cat. Below the pet was a request: “You’re not going to the RTO, right?”

The RTO, to return to the office, is an epidemic-born abbreviation. It is a myth that Covid-19 forced many companies to abandon office buildings and empty cubicles. The epidemic proved that staying in the office did not have to be more productive, and some companies continued to grow without meeting face to face.

Now, after two years of video meetings and slack chats, many companies are eager to bring employees back to their desks. However, employees may not be so eager to return to morning wear, communal bathrooms and daytime outfits without athletic wear.

So while tech companies with money to burn and fun wagons are filling out offices, they make it clear that in many cases going back to the office – at least a few days a week – is mandatory.

Lizo will be performing for Google employees this month at the amphitheater near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. When Microsoft reopened its offices in Redmond, Wash., In late February, employees were also given classes in local band music, beer and wine tasting and terrarium making.

To mark its first official week in office, chip maker Qualcomm was held A happy hour Along with its chief executive, Cristiano Amon, thousands of employees in his San Diego office were provided with free food, drinks and T-shirts. The company also began offering weekly events such as a pop-up snack stand on “Take a Break Today” and group fitness classes for “Wellness Weenday”.

“These celebrations and benefits are recognized by companies that they know employees don’t want to come back to the office, certainly not as often as before,” said Adam Galinski, a professor at Columbia University Business School. At least for now, he added, companies are picking carrots on a stick: rewarding workers for coming to the office instead of punishing them for staying home.

Before Kovid Tratke, the largest technology companies had pledged billions of dollars to set up offices with trophies of architectural wonder and financial success. Those glittering offices, full of conveniences and benefits, are a testament to the long-held belief that personal collaboration is even better at promoting creativity, inspiring innovation, and cultivating a common sense of purpose.

But many employees who have enjoyed the freedom to work from a distance, returning to the office – no matter how fancy – have a touch of back-to-school fear in late summer. Looks like a few, eager to go back five days a week.

One of the most popular posts on MemeGen, an insider company site where Google employees share memes, was a picture of the company’s cafeteria with the caption: “RTO just bumps into each other and says ‘we should have lunch soon’ you leave Google Are. “

Nick Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University who surveys 5,000 workers each month, said most people want to return to the office two or three times a week. One-third of people never want to return to the office and prefer to stay remote.

Just by eliminating office travel, Mr. The average worker will save an hour a day, Bloom said, so “you can see why employees don’t start coming to work for free bagels or to play ping-pong.” According to surveys, the main draw for going to the office is that employees want to see colleagues face to face.

After a number of delays, Google began its work schedule on April 4, requiring most employees to be present at the US office a few days a week. Apple began returning employees to the office on Monday, expecting workers to check into the office once a week.

On March 31, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president of real estate and workplace services, sent an email to employees in the San Francisco Bay Area stating that the company wanted to return to the office “really special.”

Over the years, Google has provided employees with Wi-Fi-equipped luxury buses to make travel more productive and comfortable, but it is moving one step further. It is launching a માટે 49 monthly rental program for electric scooters for staff as part of its transportation options. Google also plans to experiment with different office designs to adapt to the changing work style.

When Microsoft employees returned to their offices in February as part of a hybrid work schedule, they were greeted with “appreciation events” and lawn games such as cornholes and life-size chess. There were classes for spring basket making and canvas painting. The campus pub was transformed into a beer, wine and “mocktail” garden.

And, of course, there was free food and drink: pizza, sandwiches and specialty coffee. Microsoft paid for the food truck with offers including fried chicken, tacos, gyro, Korean food and barbecue.

Unlike other technology companies, Microsoft expects employees to pay for their own food in the office. One employee wondered how big the free food was.

The challenge for companies, Mr. How to balance the flexibility of letting them set their own schedule with a heavier hand approach to force them to arrive on specific days to maximize working time utility, Bloom said.

He said companies should focus on developing the right approach to hybrid work rather than wasting time and effort in showering employees with temptations like private concerts.

Mr. Said Bloom. “What are you going to do next?” Get Justin Bieber and then Katy Perry? “

In line with Apple’s more restrained workplace, its employees said they did not expect a celebration to return to the office – that they had not heard. Initially, Apple asked employees to come once a week. By the end of May, Apple requires them to arrive on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

When another Covid boom forced delays before Apple announced its office-to-office plans last year, more than 1,000 employees signed a letter urging management to be more open to flexible work arrangements. It was a rare show of disagreement with the company’s rank-and-file, which has historically been less willing to openly challenge executives on workplace matters.

But while tech companies are scrambling to offer employees more work flexibility, companies are also withdrawing some office benefits.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, told employees last month that it was reducing or eliminating free services such as laundry and dry cleaning. Google, like some other companies, has said it has approved requests for thousands of employees to work remotely or transfer to a different office. But if employees move to a less expensive location, Google cuts salaries, arguing that it’s always a factor in where the person was placed in the compensation setting.

Cleo, Burnaby, a legal software company in British Columbia, will not force its employees to return to office. But last week he had a party in his office.

There was lively music. Cleo’s signature was a sculpture of an asymmetrical balloon in bright blue, dark blue, coral and white – perfect for selfies. One of Cleo’s best-known workers wore a safari suit to give a tour of the facility. At 2 p.m., the company held a cupcake social.

To make its workplaces feel like home, the company moved the desk to the perimeter, allowing Cleanson – who the company calls its employees – to see the office complex’s cherry blossoms while releasing emails. A football table was upgraded to a workstation with chairs on either end, “so you can have a meeting while playing football with your laptop on it,” said Natalie Archibald, vice president of Cleo’s People.

Cleo’s Burnaby office, which employs 350, is only open at half capacity. Space-out desks must be reserved, and employees get red, yellow and green lanyards to express their level of comfort with a handshake.

Only about 60 people came that Monday. “To be able to laugh IRL instead of emoji response,” Ms. Said Archibald. “People are excited for it.”

Karen Weiss Contribution Report.

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