Work from Home…a Privilege?

Work from Home…a Privilege?

Dear Contact Center Pipeline bloggers,

I read this article this morning about Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks saying he is annoyed that workers aren’t in the office and is “ordering” employees to return to the office 3 days/week. He says that remote work is a privilege. Their “coffee tastings” and “storytellings” were used to build camaraderie among employees and he fears their company is “losing the art of collaboration” with remote work.

And by the way, in November, Starbucks reported a 9% increase in global sales for the 2022 fiscal year.

The article reports that more companies, like Apple, Meta, Google, Goldman Sachs and Disney are expanding return-to-office mandates.

I reached out to Michele Rowan, President of WFH Alliance to get her expertise and insights into the current state of remote work and her thoughts for both employees and employers on return-to-office mandates.

Linda Harden
Publisher, Contact Center Pipeline

Michele Rowan: Starbucks CEO, Howard Schulz, announced yesterday that they are “ordering” employees to return to the office a minimum of three days per week, after his earlier request fell short of 100% compliance. He also states that working from home is a “privilege.” Wow.

Did Mr. Schulz totally miss what has transpired over the last three years? Is he ignoring the fact that WFH has proven to be an effective workplace solution, is good for the planet, and is preferred by many? Is he dismissing the robust management tools that we now have in place to support performance, regardless of where people sit?

Maybe Mr. Schulz is putting his own personal preferences for working in office in front of what his employees want. Or maybe he is not trusting that when working remotely people will contribute at the same level. Regardless of his reasons, his actions seem far removed from what people want, and I feel for Starbucks’ employees.

Progressive, participatory organizations are giving people choices, because people want different things. I’m seeing companies offer a menu of options for work space, including fully remote, fully WFH, hybrid, and fully in office. All of them work, all of them are proven, and all of them are desired.

If you need to tackle unrest and dissatisfaction amongst your employees (and this is bound to happen at some point in the organizational cycle), please get to the root cause and ask your employees for their input. I don’t think that’s happening at Starbucks.

I can’t help but wonder why? Mr. Schulz (among other CEOs) is mandating office work when WFH has been so clearly successful during the pandemic and has evolved into the workplace of choice for many.

He has been clear about his own personal preferences to work exclusively in the office, but is this a good enough reason to put aside what your employees prefer?

Do you need to understand what others are doing with WFH, Hybrid and in office working? Join us at the 2023 Remote Working Summit March 8-9 in Dallas. 20+ speakers on all things remote and hybrid work.

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