In a fight no one would have expected in 2019, Amazon and Meta find themselves locked in a battle. While they may in some cases battle for employees or wallet share, in this case, they are on the same side of a terrible fight. Meta, one of the first and biggest proponents of work from home, is now among those companies trying desperately to reengage with workers in person. Mark Zuckerberg is a lot of things, and nothing if not bold, but one of the things we appreciate most about him is his ability to admit a mistake and take corrective action.
In this case, he admitted that he “misjudged” the value of remote work and said that engineers who work in person more frequently are more productive. THAT is a fascinating statement. It’s one that we’ve believed to be true and heard from several sources, but given the scale of Meta, this measurement is not inconsequential to the technology sector. To hear a spokesperson for the company, suggest that they are “refining our model to make this work as effectively as possible” makes us wonder how dramatic that really is. We suspect it’s big.
On the flip side of this battle, we find Amazon where approximately 2,000 employees walked out of the office in protest of return to office and climate change commitments. Employees suggest that this was because of a lack of trust in management’s decision making. On some level, this is exactly the sort of thing that other big companies are scared of. Communications tools like Teams or Slack have made it very easy for workers to organize.
And if they are committed to it, workers can hold management teams hostage with protests and a lack of productivity. So how then can management win in this situation? There are really two solutions and neither of them is without stress: 1. Rip the Band Aid and deal with the consequences (otherwise known as firing those who protest or are not productive) or 2. Overcommunicate with current employees as the company hires on-site only workers from the outside with the hopes that group becomes the center of cultural focus over time.
None of that is healthy or comfortable, but until workers find more value in their jobs, and respect for what the company is looking to accomplish, the global economy will struggle to reach its potential.