After embracing remote working since Covid-19, and previously claiming to be the “most forward-leading company on remote work”, Meta has decided to ask workers back into its US locations for 3 days a week.
The writing may have already been on the wall though, as Meta stopped offering remote work to new workers in March after finding that engineers performed better when they were hired on-site.
Productivity Over Flexibility? Meta Asks Workers Back to Office 3-Days a Week
Meta workers that are currently assigned to a US office will be required to work from an office location as of September this year, according to a memo that was sent out to the workforce this Thursday.
According to a company spokesperson, the change is meant to foster the “collaboration, relationships and culture necessary” for employees to do their best work. But the policy change won't affect the whole workforce. For the 25% of Meta workers that work remotely, life will continue as normal.
“We're committed to distributed work, and we're confident people can make a meaningful impact both from the office and at home,” – Meta spokesperson
With the average Meta worker currently averaging around 2.2 days in the office each week, the new hybrid model isn't asking too much. However, it does replace a more relaxed approach practiced by the company since workers were first allowed to work from home in 2020.
It joins other big tech names that have called workers back to the office.
Meta's History With Remote Work
When Meta first let employees work remotely throughout Covid-19, it branded itself as being a trailblazer for remote work.
In a live stream with employees in 2020, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta will be the “most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale” and even predicted that 50% of the company will still be remote within the next five to 10 years.
As Covid variants circulated throughout the US in 2021 and 2022, the social media giant doubled down on its flexible work policies, delaying its return to the office until March 28 of last year, when it expected workers to show up on site 50% of the time.
“Good work can get done anywhere, and I’m even more optimistic that remote work at scale is possible, particularly as remote video presence and virtual reality continue to improve” Mark Zuckerberg
The company then stopped listing “remote” or “out of the office” working as options on job listings in March of this year, and encouraged workers to return to the office when they could.
As the company continues to focus on becoming a “stronger and more nimble organization” in the face of economic challenges, Meta's official switch to a hybrid policy represents another stab at expanding the company's bottom line, alongside seismic cuts to personnel and the scaling back of employee perks.
But as the economic climate for the tech sector remains foreboding, Meta isn't the only company rethinking its approach to remote work.
Is The Home Working Experiment Over?
As maximizing productivity becomes a top priority for businesses in 2023, a number of major names in tech and entertainment have begun replacing flexible working models for partial or full returns to the office.
So far this year, companies like Dell and Amazon have asked workers back for at least three days a week, while Disney has required employees to make the commute from Monday to Thursday. This follows similar actions made by Apple, Uber, and Salesforce in 2022.
But this gravitation towards the hybrid model is hardly surprising. While the remote working experiment was largely considered to be a success, with studies finding that it upped productivity by 13%, business leaders are facing a whole different set of issues in 2023.
Surging inflation rates and a dismal economic outlook are placing even more pressure on company performance. And with an increasing number of CEOs believing that in-person collaboration is vital for workers to carry out their best work, many no longer think the capacity for flexible policies remains.
This belief is largely at odds with the general sentiments of employees. Yet, if scrapping fully remote policies can prevent more large-scale layoffs from happening, then commuting in for an extra day might not seem that bad.
The good news is that there are plenty of roles out there that are still fully remote.