The ironic news of Zoom, the remote work company, apparently rescinding it’s own remote work policy, has been heralded as the death knell for the practice of working from home.
Lydia Moynihan, The New York Post reporter, joins Squawk Box to discuss the state of remote work, as companies including Zoom are requiring most employees to work in-person at least two days a week.
This reflects the tense tug of war between belief systems, between those that think working from home is an essential dynamic for modern organizations, versus those who insist it is still essential for employees to be present in the office.
Opinions tend to be strongly polarized on this debate. Elon Musk said it is “morally wrong” and “work from home bullshit”.
So there is something of a rebounding effect, where some organizations and leaders have stamped down on the practice and mandated staff return to the office. In the UK Jeremy Hunt ordered UK public sectors back to their desks, as did city bosses and many others.
This also comes at the time research has identified that against the grain of the popular sentiment, working from home actually leads to decreased productivity.
New evidence shows that workers who come into the office spend 25% more time on activities that promote their careers than those who are remote. A survey by WFH Research found that those in the office increased mentoring of others, getting formal training and doing professional development and learning activities.
Hybrid Work is Becoming the Norm
However commenting on the news the Washington Post says that this simply reflects the fact that this approach is becoming the norm, and shows the power of ‘hybrid work’, a mix of home and office based schedules.
Sarah Carmichael writes that while yes, Zoom is under pressure as competition intensifies in the video conferencing market and there is a degree of a stressed response to that which may in turn stress it’s staff, the hybrid working pattern of spending one or a few days in the office is becoming the norm.
What Zoom’s decision really shows is that hybrid work — not fully remote work and not five-days-a-week in-person work — is the new normal.
She cites a field experiment led by Harvard Business School professor Raj Choudhury, which suggests that one to two days a week in the office is “plausibly the sweet spot, where workers enjoy flexibility and yet are not as isolated compared to peers who are predominantly working from home.”
In the study, workers who were randomly assigned to come in one to two days a week also seemed to show an increase in both the quality and quantity of their output, as measured by their emails and by their bosses’ ratings.
This approach is what many organizations are favouring, and preparing for. Many large corporations in the finance sector are having to navigate the shift to hybrid work models post-pandemic with some, like HSBC, planning to downsize their offices.
In this Bloomberg interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky discuss new data from workers and their managers about hybrid work, and also address the rise of workplace surveillance and how companies are navigating an uncertain macroeconomic environment.