The Curbed illustration was created by Martin Gee.
The three-day-a-week return-to-the-office policy was scrapped last month after several high-profile executives left the company. The rising number of COVID-19 cases was cited by the company, but the real reason was that employees did not want to work for it. COVID is a weak excuse for the policy shift because they still need to come in twice a week. Apple is the latest and highest-profile company to discover that the three-day office week, which was championed by Mayor Eric Adams and office landlords, is in practice, kind.
A lot of companies that had been in the news stood firm on their return policies, according to a workforce-transformation-practice leader at Korn Ferry who is helping companies coordinate their return-to-office plans The situation is very interesting. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. No matter what you do, it is not going to work for everyone. Financial firms, perhaps the most gung ho about return-to-office policies, have mostly caved in, resigning themselves to a hybrid future that has, in many cases,stalled out. Goldman is the only one that seems to be holding on.
What makes the week so boring? Many people have pointed out that the virus is not preventing most employees from doing other things. People are at dinner, the movies, and around. People are learning to live in the 21st century. The flexibility was something they liked. It is clear that the COVID waves will keep hitting, so we are headed for a return-to-work reckoning, despite the fact that virus variant and surge have been a useful excuse for companies that want to save face after workforce revolts. Companies will either have to call everyone back or give up on returning.
We are in a holding pattern at the moment, mostly resigned to a hybrid model, the specifics of which are muddy, and return dates continually being postponed. The New York Times was supposed to return in June, but has put it off due to rising case numbers. We have paused the start of our return to office until the conditions improve. We are closely watching public health trend lines and look forward to beginning a gradual return as conditions allow.
Only 8 percent of workers in New York are in the office five days a week, according to a survey. Sixty-eight percent of the workplace has adopted a hybrid model, compared to 6 percent before the epidemic. It is a turnabout. The Partnership’s president told the New York Times that it was revolutionary. The employers are screaming and kicking at this position. They are not happy. According to the Partnership, 49 percent of New York office workers will be at their desks after Labor Day, up from 38 percent currently. We’ve all heard overoptimistic return predictions before.
There may be exceptions. A later memo to employees explained that the 40 hours a week requirement was not a requirement for a remote pseudo office. The first three attempts to call workers back didn’t take, which led to the establishment of a three-day week. Some employees will be allowed to work remotely indefinitely, a loophole that theoretically serves as a release valve for dissent. If they move from premium plus cities like New York and San Francisco to cheaper areas of the country, they will have to take pay cuts. The company’s chief people officer would like to implement a flexible model where employees decide which days to come in each week depending on what they need to get done, but it is much harder to manage than a set pattern. Fortune states that hybrid is by far the hardest to implement in the new world order. The last two years have taught many of us how to do our jobs from home, and we know how to work from an office. We don’t know if we can maintain a balance that falls somewhere between.
It raises so many questions. Do companies require different teams to show up on different days? Leave it to the staff to deal with it. It seems like a good way to get reluctant workers to come back, but it also means that their office experience will vary and feel pointless. The offices are usually full on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because people choose to come in themselves. The people who come in are not sure why they’re here. I’m on the computer all day. If you want people to come back, you have to make it clear that they are coming in because of collaborating. We want to make sure you are working. It can feel pointless to commute to a desk when you know you have a day of Zooms.
After years of working from a corner of the bedroom, it can be difficult to get work done at work. Jay Carter, who works in marketing for a designer lighting company that has a three-day-a-week office policy, said that having to reacclimate after every COVID- related closure is awkward. We both want to shoot the shit all day after work, because we are both talkative. We will just talk for five or ten minutes now that we are more consistently. Carter said that he likes going in three days a week, but that it can be hard because the rest of the city isn’t back on a regular office schedule yet. The old gym no longer stays open late.
After two years, working from home is no longer novel and people have found new routines that they don’t want to change. Jeffrey Beers International, a design studio in the Financial District, mandated that employees return five days a week last year. The company rolled it back to three days in May to avoid losing staff to more flexible companies. John Henderson believes that the changes have been received well because the company relaxed rather than cracking down. He said that it had been an easy transition because they took a hard stance early on. We were able to work two days a week from home when we rolled it back in May. He thinks that the entry-level workforce will be hurt by the situation in which tech companies push back dates until they lose credibility with employees who refuse to return.
If companies could get workers to go back to the office part-time again, they might find that they like it. The company started with a mandated two-day-a-week return in July 2020 and has since increased it to three. He claims that his company asked people if they liked the days they had. He lives in Park Slope on Mondays and Tuesdays, when he can deal with alternate-side parking, which means he can use his car on Sundays without stressing about parking, and he enjoys seeing colleagues on Wednesday through Friday, mixing up his midday walk and working from a spacious office rather than an He would never want to go back to five days. I wouldn’t be happy.
After years of demonstrating that they can do their jobs just fine from home, workers seem to want more than luxurious amenities, such as free lunch, or Lizzo concerts. They want a reason for the sad desk salads and all the hours lost to commute. The first few days of hard shoes can be a wake-up call. It is unclear to many of them if the fun parts of office life outweigh the negatives. There will be fun parts of office life with hybrid scheduling. The office needs to feel like it did before the workers left to accept a three-day workweek. That is, not just a physical space, the design specifics of which are, in the end, beside the point.
The 3-Day Return to Office is a Dud.