Meta tells staff to return to office three days a week

'Engineers perform better in person' says Zuckerberg. Hang on, aren't you the defender of the Metaverse?

Meta is asking employees to return to their designated office three days a week from the start of late summer as more tech companies discuss the perceived productivity losses of remote work.

The move, which isn't entirely surprising, was communicated to staff yesterday and does not affect any of the workforce that has already mostly worked from home or on the go.

"We're committed to distributed work, and we're confident people can make a meaningful impact both from the office and at home,” a spokesman at Meta, the parent for Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, told The Register.

"We're also committed to continuously refining our model to foster the collaboration, relationships and culture necessary for employees to do their best work," the corporate mouthpiece added.

We understand that some full-time employees will still be allowed to WFH but this is subject to length of service and other critera.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg hinted in his March message to staff about a series of sweeping changes he was looking to introduce, that in addition to 10,000 more job cuts and a pause in hiring, he'd mandate a return to the office.

Under the heading "In-person time helps build relationships and get more done," the CEO - who got paid $27 million in the last fiscal year - said [PDF] he'd "encourage" staff to "find more opportunities to work with your colleagues in person."

"Our early analysis of performance data suggests that engineers who either joined Meta in-person and then transferred to remote or remained in-person performed better on average than people who joined remotely.

"This analysis also shows that engineers earlier in their career perform better on average when they work in-person with teammates at least three days a week. This requires further study, but our hypothesis is that it is still easier to build trust in person and that those relationships help us work more effectively."

Meta isn't alone, numerous big technology businesses are forcing their human capital back into the office under the guise of upping productivity. Amazon famously demanded in February that the majority of its workers spent "at least" three days a week on-site.

Boss Andy Jassy said: "It's easier to learn, model, practice, and strengthen our culture when we're in the office together most of the time and surrounded by our colleagues. It's especially true for new people… but it's also true for people of all tenures at Amazon."

Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff questioned the productivity of new hires, and asked if it was lower than others in the company because of the work from home freedoms they enjoy. "Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office office culture?"

More recently, Dell - which had said it expected the majority of employees to rarely go back into the office each week - is now initiating a return to the office for at least three days a week.

Previous research from Microsoft shed light on the phenomenon of productivity paranoia: when managers struggle to believe their staff are being effective at home. A survey of 30,000 US-based Prodoscore users found staff that were productive in the office were likely to perform the same amount when working at home.

There are also a raft of surveys and research on staff not wanting to return to the office and work as they had pre-COVID 19, so this tension between organizations and their employees will need to be addressed at some point. ®

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