Meta's long-running attempt to get employees back to the office might just succeed. The Facebook owner tells Engadget it will require that office-assigned staff return to in-person work for at least three days a week starting September 5th. People who are exclusively remote can stay that way, Meta says.
In a statement, a spokesperson says Meta is "committed to distributed work" and that people can have a "meaningful impact" both at the office and working from home. This is part of an effort to refine the collaboration and work culture that help staff do their best, according to the representative. This is part of a previously announced hybrid strategy that came alongside large-scale layoffs. Meta sees 2023 as the "year of efficiency," and believes some in-person teamwork is necessary for maximum productivity.
Meta instituted a formal remote work policy in May 2020 as it became clearer that the COVID-19 pandemic was unlikely to end any time soon. While it hoped to reopen offices in 2021, it repeatedly pushed back that timeline as COVID-19 spread and new virus variants emerged. In early 2022, contract workers protested requirements to return to the office months before Meta's in-house employees were (at the time) slated to make a similar move.
The social networking giant isn't alone. Apple and other major tech companies have mandated hybrid work schedules and have faced similar resistance. Some employees have objected to the reduced flexibility in locations and schedules as well as increased costs that can include daycare and transportation. There's pressure from other companies, too. Shopify, Spotify and other well-known brands have instituted remote-first policies that may be more attractive to job seekers. While the pandemic appears to be winding down, the employment landscape has clearly changed.