Starbucks Corp wants a return to the office for its corporate employees: All US support center staffers must now work from the office at least three days a week, starting at the end of January.
The new rules make for a jump up from the previous mandate of just one day per week. The new days will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the mandatory third day determined on a team-by-team basis.
It's another example of a corporation that's rolling back workplace flexibility that was first offered as a Covid pandemic response in 2020.
Starbucks CEO Cites “Need to Rebuild”
In his memo announcing the return to the office, interim CEO Howard Schultz specifically mentions a need to “rebuild” while Starbucks employees “emerge” from the pandemic.
Yet today, over 500 Americans are dying from Covid daily, a number that has risen from a low of fewer than 200 deaths per day back in July 2021. And since vaccines won't prevent Covid from spreading, safety measures like masking, distancing, and staying home when possible remain the top ways to combat it.
Regardless of your stance on the myriad benefits of remote vs in-person work, though, investing in the tech tools can leave more choices open to all employees. VPNs, password managers, and remote access software can all help to shore up security while keeping employees safe and productive.
Tech Companies Are Pushing for In-Person Work
Not every business in tech is pushing for a one-size-fits all solution to work habits. Among others, Facebook, Slack, and Microsoft have all kept up their generous remote work policies.
But Starbucks is joining a host of other big companies that have made their preference for physical, in-office presence known in recent months. Since last November, Peloton has forced its workers to return to the office three days a week or leave the company. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel went a little further, informing employees that they'll need to be in the office at least four days per week. Disney, Uber and Twitter have made similar policy choices.
Apple had an entire saga surrounding a return to the office: First, the company kept delaying the decision due to backlash from an employee advocacy group, then the head of Apple's Machine Learning team left the company rather than stop working remotely, the return-to-office decision was delayed further, and CEO Tim Cook ultimately defended the choice, citing the importance of interpersonal collaboration.
The kicker to Apple's unpopular policy journey, however, might be the news just released today: Apple's next annual shareholder meeting will remain virtual when it takes place this March.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, Apple's annual meetings were held in person at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino.