In a letter (opens in new tab) to employees earlier this week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared 2023 the company’s “Year of Efficiency” as it continues to struggle with the challenging economic conditions that led it to lay off about 11,000 employees late last year.
The letter describes how “personal time helps build relationships and get more done,” leading many employees to fear a massive return to the office (RTO) mandate could jeopardize their role.
To be clear, the announcement doesn’t force workers to return to work, but it certainly lays the groundwork for what many believe will soon become a requirement.
An internal study found that technicians who joined the company in person and then moved to a remote location, or technicians who remained in person the entire time, outperformed those who only worked remotely.
A three-day office week was found to have improved the productivity of new starters, a trend also seen at other technology giants such as Google and Amazon.
Even Meta admits that the hypothesis requires “further study,” but it indicates that employees need to work on building personal relationships in the future.
“In the meantime,” Zuckerberg said, “I encourage all of you to find more opportunities to work with your colleagues in person.”
Given the current climate and how other companies are reacting, it’s likely that Meta will ask its employees to spend more time in the office.
In February 2023, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced that many of the company’s employees would be asked to return to the office from May, citing the beneficial effects of work culture on productivity.
However, such a move will almost certainly cause a stir among staff, which we have seen elsewhere.
Following the announcement, Amazon faced claims of unfairness against those who joined on a remote work basis and those who live further away or have special requirements that favor hybrid work.
Whether the return to office (RTO) mandates in the technology industry will ever be sustainable remains to be seen.
In February 2023, Google partially reversed its RTO mandate by first asking Google Cloud employees to spend three days in the office, then reducing that to two days and sharing a desk with a colleague every other day.