Some Tech Startups, and Big Tech Firms, Want Workers Back in Office

(p. A1) For a tech guy, Mike de Vere, chief executive of fintech software startup Zest AI, has a contrarian return-to-work plan for his 100 employees: he wants them in the office full time.

Mr. de Vere said having employees together in the Burbank, Calif., headquarters improves communication, builds trust and allows for them to absorb knowledge from more experienced colleagues.

“We believe that we will be our best selves the more that we are together,” he said.

As more tech companies leverage the promise of flexible work arrangements as a competitive advantage, some are going the opposite route, betting that a strong office culture is what will help them recruit and retain the best talent.

Proponents of fully in-office work cite a range of benefits, from the collaboration that can result from happenstance interactions to easier communication. Plus, they add, plenty of people enjoy working in offices, especially after months spent, for some, in makeshift arrangements. Given the tech industry’s status as a bellwether for workplace trends, professionals in many industries are watching to see where it lands.

. . .

(p. A4) Dan Kaplan, a partner with organizational consulting firm KornFerry International, said the pandemic has permanently changed the equation for employees. The days of being in the office just to show your face are over: “People aren’t willing to do it anymore,” he said.

Though people early in their careers crave mentorship and the ability to build their social circles on the job, Mr. Kaplan said he’s started seeing flexibility as a point of negotiation between job seekers and employers. Candidates are trying to broker fewer days a week in the office and CEOs prefer more time in person, he said.

“There is going to be tension in the system,” he said. What tech companies do will have impacts across industries, he added.

. . .

An Amazon spokesman said the company plans to gradually return to an office-centric workweek because it “enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively.”

For the full story, see:

Katherine Bindley. “Tech Startups Eye a World, Post-Covid, Back in the Office.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, April 26, 2021): A1 & A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 25, 2021, and has the title “Five Days in the Office? For These Startups, the Future of Work Is Old School.” The online edition says that the title of the print edition was: “Tech Startups Eye a World, Post-Virus, Back in the Office Some Tech Firms View Office As Place to Lure, Hold Talent.” My copy of the print edition had the title in the citation above.)

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