business news in context, analysis with attitude

Fast Company quotes Slack Technologies CEO/co-founder Stewart Butterfield as saying that remote workforces are probably baked into the technology sector's future, even if companies want to bring people back to the office.

The reason, he said, is market forces - otherwise known as peer pressure.

"“If we say that everyone must return to the office, or we expect people to, and one of our competitors says you can work remotely, who wouldn’t take the second option there?” he says.  "There’s a market force at play. So I don’t know that individual companies are going to be able to opt out and say, ‘Our employees have to come into the office.'”

The most likely model, he says, will be some sort of hybrid.

According to the story, "Slack conducted research on pre-pandemic office use and found that 65% of staff were in the office on weekdays, with most of the rest on vacation, sick, or traveling. He predicts that Slack’s future workforce will be 20-30% will be remote, with the majority appearing at work 1-2 days per week for face time with their teams, and working remotely on the other days."

Meanwhile, the  BBC reports that "Microsoft has told staff that they will have the option of working from home permanently with manager approval.

"The move mimics the US tech giant's rivals Facebook and Twitter, which have also said remote work would be a permanent option."

According to the story, "Microsoft said some roles will continue to require an in-person presence, such as those needing access to hardware, the firm added. But many staff will also be able to work from home part-time, without needing formal approval from their managers.

'Our goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention - guided by employee input, data, and our commitment to support individual work styles and business needs while living our culture,' a Microsoft spokesperson said of the new guidance."

At the same time, in Minnesota the Star Tribune reports that "Target has told its Twin Cities corporate employees that the majority of them can expect to continue working virtually through at least June because of the continued threat of the coronavirus.

"Target is the largest employer in downtown Minneapolis, with more than 8,500 workers in its corporate headquarters plus other offices … Like other major urban business districts, downtown Minneapolis is still practically a ghost town, with only about one in 10 workers regularly working in their physical offices.

"Target executives also said the company expects to incorporate telecommuting into its future workplace plans."

KC's View:

I mention this trend not because retailers are going to be able to adopt broad work-from-home policies - which they can't or won't - but rather because these policies are affecting how many of their customers work and live.  Which, of course, affects how they shop.

There's a terrific piece in the New York Times this morning about how CEOs at many companies around the country have discovered a new life experience over the past six months - the evening family dinner.  "Without in-person company meetings, chief executives have instead become regulars at a new type of meeting: the family dinner," the story says.  "For some of the busiest people in the world, the new normal has reshaped life at home."

The story notes that "decades of research have shown the benefits of regular family meals for children across the socioeconomic spectrum. Children who eat with their parents have bigger vocabularies, receive higher grades and have lower rates of obesity.  They are also more resilient and confident, manage stress better and have lower rates of anxiety and behavioral problems."

And, I'm guessing, the executives end up being better-adjusted, too.