Big Tech Pushes Back Against COVID-19 Work-from-Home Policies

Big Tech Pushes Back Against COVID-19 Work-from-Home Policies

An Ars Technica piece highlighted one of the more interesting bits of fallout from COVID-19 – the pandemic may have forced a work-from-home trial run, but for many, that’s all it was. And it’s time to return to the office.

The funniest part is that COVID-19 only effected PSD tangentially – we’ve always worked remotely. So at least from a work perspective – and believe me, I only mean from that focused perspective – 2020 was business-as-usual.

But for Silicon Valley (and most office jobs), which usually resides on the bleeding edge of innovation, their internal policies can be less-than-progressive.

Back in 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously insisted that all employees with work-from-home arrangements needed to return to the office. 

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” read the internal memo (which leaked courtesy of some pissed-off employees). “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

In the intervening years, the overall vibe remained that a remote work environment kills productivity – despite all evidence to the contrary. And while the coronavirus forced Big Tech to reconsider old prejudices, it didn’t quite stick.

While Twitter is maintaining its remote work environment indefinitely (“Opening offices will be our decision,” said a spokesperson. “When and if our employees come back, will be theirs”), Apple is forcing its staff to return to the office three days a week starting in early September.

“For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Google is also trying to pull its workforce back to the office, though their work-from-home policy was recently extended to mid-October, and Lyft postponed its return-to-office plans until February of 2022. And there’s no telling how the latest COVID-19 Delta Variant will effect these plans. In many of the more congested pockets of the country, lawmakers and businesses are already nudging consumers to put masks back on indoors.

Whether work-from-home sticks across the board, it certainly seems like we’re on the verge of a very different “new normal.”