In a letter (opens in new tab) to employees earlier this week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared 2023 to be the company’s “Year of Efficiency” as it continues to battle with the challenging economic conditions that saw it lay off around 11,000 workers late last year.
The letter details how “in-person time helps build relationships and get more done”, leaving many employees fearing that a mass return-to-office (RTO) mandate may put their roles at risk.
To be clear, the announcement does not issue a requirement for workers to return to office, however it certainly sets the foundation for what many believe will become a requirement soon.
Meta and Facebook return to office
An internal study found that engineers who joined the firm in-person and then transferred to remote, or engineers who remained in-person throughout, performed better than those who have worked remote-only.
A three-day office-based week was noted to have improved new starters’ productivity, a trend seen in other tech giants like Google and Amazon.
Even Meta admits that the hypothesis requires “further study”, however it indicates that workers should work to build in-person relationships moving forward.
“In the meantime," Zuckerberg said, "I encourage all of you to find more opportunities to work with your colleagues in person.”
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It's likely that, given the current climate and how other companies are reacting, Meta may indeed begin to ask its workers to spend more time in the office.
In February 2023, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced that many of the company’s workers would be asked to return to office from May, citing the beneficial impacts of workplace culture on productivity.
A move like this will almost certainly cause an uproar among its workforce, though, which we've also seen elsewhere.
After its announcement, Amazon was met with claims of unfairness toward those who joined on the premise of remote work and those who live further afield or have special requirements to which hybrid work is beneficial.
Whether return-to-office (RTO) mandates in the tech industry will ever be sustainable remains to be seen.
Back in February 2023, Google partially rowed back on its RTO mandate by first asking Google Cloud workers to spend three days in the office, then asking them to reduce that to two days, and share a desk with a colleague on alternating days.
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