'Firmer expectations' | Meta to enforce three-day office week mandate to 'support collaboration'

Meta to enforce three-day office week mandate to 'support collaboration'

Meta has announced that employees must come into the office three days a week starting from September, in a marked change from the company’s previous policies which embraced the hybrid model. 

The tech and social media behemoth confirmed it had updated its policies last week to ensure that staff assigned to a specific office would be required to now spend three fifths of their working week in the office.

Staff who were hired on remote contracts will not be affected by the new rules, a source told Business Insider.

An internal memo reportedly said that "firmer in-person expectations will be a shift for some and will require trade offs," before adding that in-office working "supports collaboration and the energy that come from working alongside your team, which are critical as we build the future."

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A spokesperson for Mark Zuckerberg’s company said: "We're committed to distributed work, and we're confident people can make a meaningful impact both from the office and at home. 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 decision marks a shift from the company’s previous stance on remote and hybrid working.

In a 2022 interview with podcast host Tim Ferris, Zuckerberg outlines a vision to have at least half of the firm’s headcount working remotely within a decade.

Firms want more staff back in the office

But Meta is far from alone in shifting priorities back to office-based working. In fact, more than half of UK firms want their hybrid employees to come back to the office full-time, a new report has found.

In a significant study of businesses of all sizes and industries across the UK, Towergate Health & Protection has revealed the current state of play when it comes to hybrid working.

The figures show that hybrid working is still very much in place, with 30% of companies saying that the majority of their staff split their working time between home and their usual place of work. The average company has 39% of its employees working on a hybrid basis, and this rises to nearly half (47%) of employees among large companies. Just 14% of companies said they had no hybrid employees.

However, over half (54%) of employers said they are actively trying to encourage employees back to the office. In a bid to do this, employers are utilising a variety of tactics:

  • Mandatory office days, 29%

  • Free meals and/or drinks, 29%

  • Access to the gym 28%

  • Onsite wellbeing days 27%

  • More onsite socials 24%

  • Subsidised transport/commuting costs 24%

  • Access to in-person counselling 22%

Encouraging employees back to the office

While the majority of employers do offer, or have had little choice but to offer, hybrid working, it is clear that many would now prefer staff to be back in their usual workplace.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, commented: “Encouraging employees back to the office will take a careful mix of incentives, and health and wellbeing support will be fundamental.”

Indeed, as the research shows, many companies have already started to offer wider health and wellbeing support based at the workplace, but with hybrid working now being the norm, these benefits will have to work hard to encourage people back.

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Support will need to be appropriate to the different demographics of the workforce and to employees’ differing needs. This means offering a wide range of options, covering all four pillars of health and wellbeing – physical, mental, social, and financial – to help the transition back to the workplace to be healthy, positive, and productive.

Supporting those who choose to stay home

As well as motivating employees to return to the office, health and wellbeing support will be vital for those employees who still choose to work from home.

Working from home can potentially bring with it a whole host of health and wellbeing issues. These can include musculoskeletal issues from not having a good work desk setup, to the mental pressures of isolation and lack of social contact. Employees may even be hit financially by the current high costs of heating their home while they work. So support may be as diverse as virtual physio appointments, online counselling, and financial education; and this will need to be coupled with access to face-to-face support too.

Clark concluded: “As working styles widen, employers will have to widen their health and wellbeing offering to match. This will be in terms of what they offer, and where. Information gathering will be key and varied methods of communication will be vital. Support will need to include a mix of remote and in-person, and we’re going to see an increase in the use of wellbeing platforms to make support easier to access too.”

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