When there is a return to the office, will your organization have a more lenient WFH policy?

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SVP & CIO, 501 - 1,000 employees
We poll our company every two weeks and we've been doing it through the whole entire current coronavirus wave. I think for a lot of us in March of last year, it was like one week you're in the work, and then you're like, "Oh, I guess this'll last for a week or two." And then you send out a note on internal comms and it's like, "Hey, don't come into the office tomorrow." It was like flipping a light switch: you're in the office and you're not in the office. And all of a sudden, no one was in the office. 

We started polling our entire company on their level of comfort, and we started to see these three groups emerge. The demographics of those groups were, and I don't know if this is the same for every company. There were folks that were earlier in their career. They live in San Francisco, in a one-bedroom studio apartment, and they were dying to get back in the office. Like, "Get me the hell out of this office, so that I can go back in and collaborate with people on the floor." They wanted all of the goodness that the office provided—the free food and the socializing. And then there was this group in the middle that were maybe a little longer in their career, but still wanted to have the ability to go into the office. They would say, "Hey, I want to go back to the office because it's a good way to break up my week. It gives me some flexibility, but maybe go in three days a week, part-time, in and out." And then there was a cohort of people that were a little bit farther along into their career that were like, "I don't want to go back in the office. I don't like the commute. I don't like dealing with all the crowds." The social thing was not their cup of tea. Those three groups have now become very defined.

It's going to be an interesting thing for companies to have to work through, whether we like it or not. I'm guessing in a good chunk of our companies you probably have all three of those cohorts inside your company. People have gotten a taste of what it's like to work from home full-time, and they know they can be successful in it. There's going to be this real interesting cultural, and management, and HR dilemma on how do we orchestrate this? Because I think going back with the hard “everyone comes back in the office,” you're going to get people saying, "Why? I just spent a year of my life working from my house and I delivered." I'm curious how we are going to deal with that. 

So I think it's going to be this interesting conversation. And we're struggling with that. I think we're landing somewhere in the middle, which is we're going to have to be able to accommodate, and we're going to have to be okay with all three of those types of work cultures. Whereas before, I don't think we would have been nearly as official or supportive of all those work cultures. I think now it's forced us to.
CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees
In our business, you kind of need to be there. It's already difficult enough giving out millions of dollars to people before COVID, and now it gets even weirder during Zoom calls. So we need to be there. Everything we do is built on relationships. So once we're physically able to, we'll start corralling the people to start coming back. I feel somewhat similar to how Dropbox is approaching this, being very black and white about it. It's like, this is what we're doing. That's kind of the same stance we're taking. Everything folks have said is correct about this whole hybrid model and that from now on different folks are going to want to do different things. Luckily for us, we don't have that many employees also, so it's a little bit easier for us to contain. But we feel that once you start having too many policies, or even non-policies, sometimes it becomes confusing. You get situations where people are wondering, "Hey, half my team is there, but I'm not there, so do I get penalized?" So we just say, "Hey, we're coming back to the office on capacity” and all those things. However, whether it's written or unwritten, there will be a little bit more flexibility where we didn't have before with working from home. So it's, "Come back to the office, we need you there. We want to see your face. This is our business," but now we're a little bit more lenient. We just felt like if you try to solve for everything, so many edge cases start coming up. And then, you expect employees to be good, but sometimes they abuse and all this other stuff happens, potentially.
CIO in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I think we're in the camp of adapting some of the work-from-home adjustments permanently. We've already mapped out certain roles in the company that may never even need to come back to the office.We have manufacturing production and warehousing facilities. Those folks all need to be there. Our corporate headquarters, primarily, like SGNA folks, are in California. And what we learned over the last year is we spent way too much money on T&E for those folks. There were days where I would leave Oakland at 6:00 in the morning, I'd go to Washington. Catch a mid-morning meeting. Go over to Idaho, catch another afternoon meeting. And then maybe come home, or stay over and then come back the next day. That was pretty common for a lot of the folks in corporate, and we've learned that it's crazy. We were spending so much money sending those teams around. We don't need to do that. We're acknowledging that we can be as productive, in a lot of ways, remote. And at the same time, realizing there's things that are a lot more efficient in-person. So we are, actually, I'd say, building exceptions into how we're going to work going forward. It will definitely last. We've already rebuilt some of our employee profiles and where they need to be. And starting to think about expanded recruiting opportunities in that. The T&E, the travel, that will definitely scale back I'm sure, just things that didn't make sense to be doing anymore. But at the same time, I do know there's a large portion that do want to get back to normal and resume that. So we'll definitely be a mixed mode for a while.
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CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees

Yeah. We're the same way, because we're a travel-heavy company. Our co-founders were on the road pretty much every day, 365 days a year. And now, they're really liking Zoom, because now they can be everywhere. I can ask them to be on a panel, I can ask them to host a round table, I can ask them to join one of my meetings with a potential customer, and they'll be there every time. They're like, "Oh yeah, let me just move this one, and I'll be there." Whereas before, they were always on a plane, on the road somewhere where they're not accessible except by their phone. And it's never good when they're just calling into a Zoom meeting from a phone line. But now, everybody's fully engaged, everybody's available. Whatever resources we need for all these sales meetings, everyone is there, and everyone's able to attend most of the time. So it's been a bonus for us.

SVP & CIO, 501 - 1,000 employees

Yeah. I think our situation is similar, Shokie. I think we're going to be back in the office, but with a lot of flexibility. And I think it will become part of the DNA of the company. We're already set up in a way... I know the technology works. We all know that at this point. It's not a technology problem. I think there's going to be maybe certain roles that could be full-time all the time from home. And then there's going to be, based on not only role, but also personal preference, where some people may want to come in, even in those roles. But it's going to be, I think, a pretty wide range. I talked about those three cohorts. I really do believe people are going to feel pretty bullish on, "Hey, if I feel like I can work from home successfully, I've proven that." And if a company won't allow them to do that, I think that there'll be plenty of other companies that will allow them to do that. So I think this also bleeds into a whole different conversation around the fight for talent. And if a company is saying that, "Look, we will not allow you to work from home," and taking that stance when we come back from the pandemic, in a role that other companies will allow to work from home, I think they may have a bit of an attrition problem on their hands. As we know, if you're based in California/Bay Area, it's still a fight for talent. Even in the middle of COVID, it's still a fight for talent. So something to consider.

CISO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
It's easier for tech companies to keep doing this. I mean, we really don't need to have an office. But I see a lot of companies around here, that you have to be in the office and they're struggling with certain kinds of workers, including the government workers, the city, the county, all that.
VP, Customer and Technical Operations in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Prior to pandemic, we had a work in the office culture. The overall feeling was that since we are a creative company, we make games, everybody has to be in the same room and have long, extended brainstorming and creative sessions. We've learned that's not the case. And also, being south of the market in San Francisco, even if you live in the city, you're lucky if it takes you a half hour to get to the office. All of a sudden it's turned into, well, this is fantastic, a total total mind shift. Literally, working from home was the off hour stuff people did. So it's been a real positive thing for our company. And it's a purely digital business, so there's no reason why anybody really needs to be physically anywhere. We're definitely going to be working from home more. We're putting out roles that can work from home 100%, and some who need to be nearby so they can be in 2-3 times a week. I'm just wondering if the pendulum swings the other way. Everybody used to have an office and open floor plans. Now we're talking about, well, we should get rid of the open floor plan. People like peace and quiet working from home. So it'll be interesting to see if companies decide that once they are back in the office, that we really were more effective that way.

Also, I think there was a lot of learnings on how to use video conferencing, because previously we used Zoom primarily site-to-site. And then, there'd be meetings where you'd have 10 people in the room, and one person who's connected in remotely, and everybody forgets there's somebody on the call, right? Or forgets to share their screen. Because of that, video conferences or working from home and dialing in was seen as completely ineffective. But it wasn't because of the person who was remote, it was because the people in the room never really understood how to do it. Now with everybody on Zoom, we realized it can work. And I'm hoping that transfers over when we start going to our hybrid model coming into the office. But then, I could see it flipping the other way where people stop being considerate of the people who are dialed in or connected in, going back to the way it was. It'll be interesting to see how that all plays out.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Yes, that’s what I expect.
Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
I can’t speak for my organization.

But, COVID showed in the last 2 weeks in March 2020 that WFH works for large swaths of people.

How well it works, will be different depending on the organization and culture.

But it opened a Pandora’s box that certainly will never close.
CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
Yes I believe our WFH pre-Covid stance will change quite a bit. And thank goodness. With some of the cuts we’ve made to comp and benefits, if WFH on occasion or predominantly helps us retain strong staff, it’s a no-brainer. The past year has helped us eliminate business gaps so it’s tenable for most.
Director of IT in Transportation, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
It is leaning that way

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