Unlike fully remote or in-person work arrangements, hybrid models have played out differently in each office, sometimes involving two or three days a week of attendance and, in other cases, letting employees choose when to work. want. A Robin survey of more than 10,000 offices worldwide found that nearly 20 percent of American office workers return one day a week, about 10 percent return two days a week, only five percent come back three days a week, even fewer come back four or five days a week, and more than 50 percent don’t use the office consistently every week. Wednesday is the most popular day to go to the office, according to data from workplace safety firm Kastle.
Then there are plenty of business leaders still scratching their heads: Nearly a third of employers surveyed haven’t decided on their plans to return to the office, according to data from ManpowerGroup. And those in the process of setting or adjusting expectations realize the stakes are high, including how employees form relationships with each other and how they view their company’s leadership.
“Zillow has not said, and will not say, ‘Tuesdays and Thursdays you have to be in the office,'” said Meghan Reibstein, Zillow’s director of product management and flexible working. “Our employees are adults. Call this a millennial type of thinking, I’m a millennial, but we believe that if they’re happy and fulfilled in their lives, it will help them present themselves at work.”
Many companies have held firm to their RTO expectations even as Covid rates rise. BlackRock has not made any changes to its protocols, nor has Meta, formerly Facebook, which opened its US offices in late March, but offered the option for many employees to continue working remotely. Some workplaces have reinstated mask requirements and others have said they don’t anticipate requiring assistance any time soon. (The New York Times, which had told its employees that most should plan to be in the office three days a week by June 6, announced a pause in expectation last week due to high levels of covid in New York City).
But company leaders are also grappling with office support issues that go far beyond health and safety. Many entertainment and leisure activities have made a strong comeback in recent months. Attendance at NBA games is at 95 percent of its pre-pandemic level, TSA checkpoints are at 89 percent, and Open Table dining is at 87 percent. Office attendance has been delayed. And executives have realized that when attendance isn’t required and workers aren’t guaranteed to see their teammates, managers have to get creative in articulating what benefit they see in a trip.
Jefferies, an investment bank in New York, has tested various incentives to get employees more excited about the office, asking managers to set expectations for how often employees come in. The firm’s principal, Rich Handler, regularly posts on Instagram inviting employees who are in the office to send him a direct message for a chance to be invited to dinner. Earlier this month, Mr. Handler and company president Brian Friedman sent out a memo urging employees to start improving their attendance levels for the sake of their young colleagues who yearn for community.
“For those who haven’t yet been to the office regularly, we understand that it can seem daunting combined with a sense of comfort that many have settled on to work primarily from home,” they wrote. “However, we strongly believe that the negative aspects of these realities are outweighed by the magic of being together in person.”