Return-to-work wars: Execs at Citi, Manpower, and McKinsey on why they’re embracing remote and hybrid work

Companies are deciding which pandemic-era changes will endure regarding how and where we work.
The return-to-work wars demonstrate a disconnect between some employers and employees.
Insider spoke with C-suite execs who shared why they are embracing remote- and hybrid-work models.

In January 2020, when news broke of a mysterious

pneumonia

-like virus creeping through the Eastern hemisphere, Nancy Hauge, the chief people experience officer at Automation Anywhere, would not have predicted that only months later the coronavirus outbreak would force an overhaul of the HR operating model at her organization.By October 2020, 71% of workers with jobs that could be done remotely were working from home all or most of the time, according to data from Pew Research. Hauge was among the HR leaders facilitating this remote-work revolution within her organization.Although she describes 2020 as the most complex period of her career, Hauge reached a compelling conclusion by year’s end. “What’s been most surprising about the pandemic is social distancing created more intimacy,” she said. “In many ways, we are more connected than before.”Remote-work warsMore than two years into the pandemic, organizations are grappling with whether to reopen workplaces. A new Microsoft report says that about half of the leaders it surveyed are looking to end remote work in the next year.

Amazon, Google, and the accounting giant EY are among the many companies requiring employees to resume their old commutes and return to work. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, made headlines when he issued a staff memo telling employees to return to the office or “pretend to work somewhere else.” Meanwhile, employers including Atlassian, Coinbase, and Gusto are offering permanent remote- or hybrid-work options. The return-to-work wars demonstrates a disconnect between employers and employees, as most teleworkers say they prefer working from home. A survey of more than 3,000 employees conducted by Blind, an anonymous employee community app, found that 64% of employers, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, would rather work from home than receive a $30,000 raise. Insider spoke with 10 industry leaders who shared why they are embracing remote and hybrid work for the foreseeable future.The responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.  

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