Will Major U.S. Companies Ever Fully Re-Open Offices? CEOs Are Divided
The work-from-home revolution sparked by the pandemic will not simply fade away as a distant memory as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available and the U.S. begins to develop herd immunity.
Several companies, notably big tech leaders in Silicon Valley including Twitter and Slack, reported that their employees will “never” need to come back to the office unless they choose to do so. But other companies continue grappling with the decision of when – or whether – to allow employees back into the office, according to a LinkedIn News report.
CEOs Weigh In
The Wall Street Journal published the thoughts of corporate leaders about returning to the office in 2021, showcasing widely varying opinions.
“COVID-19 was perhaps the worst possible catalyst,” says Synchrony Financial CEO Margaret Keane, “but it forced us to make a transition that was long overdue. We have… offered our employees the choice to work from home permanently or return to the office when it is safe.”
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO, predicts that, in the future, “A certain amount of people work from home permanently.” On the other hand, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser says that “everyone” will return to the office eventually. “I do think from a cultural point of view–apprenticeship, the sense of belonging–you are better together,” she says.
Vaccine Push from Top CEOs
Those CEOs in a hurry to return to business-as-usual, as well as those who employ essential workers who never left the worksite, are pushing for vaccinations for their employees. Some are offering cash incentives, extra paid hours, or even paid leave, Bloomberg reports.
Currently, less than 1% of companies in the U.S. are mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees, while 6% plan to do so, according to a February survey from Littler, an employment and labor law practice. Companies in U.S. states where employers can fire workers for any legal reason may be more likely to mandate the vaccines, as they will have recourse if workers fail to comply.
Chase CEO Dimon, however, told Bloomberg his company won’t mandate the vaccine due to legal concerns. “I think what we’d like to do is have carrots and sticks — we want people to take it; we think it’s a far better thing.”
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