This week at Davos, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser made headlines when she said underperforming remote employees would be called back into the office for coaching. How Citigroup defines productivity, and how many employees are affected aren’t clear. But the move was notable for the “bank with a soul,” which in March 2021 became the first major U.S. bank to embrace a progressive 3-2 hybrid working model.
The 3-2 approach has since found its way into the DNA of many large companies – sometimes reluctantly by management, sometimes with enthusiasm. As we approach the third anniversary of the start of the pandemic, we thought it made sense to review the hybrid work policies of a few resistors, in-betweeners and change agents in the S&P 500, as well as our database of their Glassdoor ratings over the past 24 months.
As you read through, just keep in mind that Glassdoor ratings are certainly not exclusively reflective of a company’s hybrid work policy, or lack thereof, and everything below should be viewed through that lens.
“If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.” – Elon Musk
The head of the electric car giant made waves early this summer when he ordered employees back to the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week. At the time, employees were instructed to return to a main Tesla office for work, and “not a remote branch office unrelated to job duties.” Musk also said he would directly review and approve requests for exemption.
In September, CNBC reported that morale was low at Tesla, which was struggling to enforce this edict. Among other things, sources reported daily absenteeism of 10-12 percent, a rate which was being closely scrutinized by company executives. Around the same time, Tesla employees on Blind also reported getting emails from the company if they didn’t show up at least 16 days a month.
Tesla’s Glassdoor rating has gone from a high of 3.938 in March of 2021, to a two-year low of 3.728 in August of 2022. Much of that decline can be attributed to the four-month period after Musk ordered people back to work. It remains at 3.729 today.
The Walt Disney Co.
“In a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe and create with peers.” – Bob Iger
Earlier this month, new(ish) CEO Bob Iger told all corporate employees to be in the office four days a week, typically Monday to Thursday, starting in March. Prior to this, most corporate employees had to be in the office three days a week. Disney’s four-day a week policy falls into the more aggressive camp, with large cap peers like Starbucks, Apple and Nike opting for a 3-2 model.
Disney’s Glassdoor rating has gone from a two-year high of 4.143 in February 2021, to a current two-year low of 3.973.
“It doesn’t work for young kids, or spontaneity, or management.” – Jamie Dimon
After significant pushback against remote working, Jamie Dimon partially conceded to the concept this April. At that time, the bank said half would return to the office full time (including branch, security, and facility workers), 10% of employees would be permitted to work remotely full time, and the remaining 40% could split their time. That said, those with hybrid privileges were banned from working in hotels, coffee shops, shared spaces, and other places with potential privacy issues.
Today, the bank still does not require employees in the last two categories to be in the office all five days. But in August 2022, sources told the New York Post that Dimon was mandating that senior executives do exactly that, while encouraging them to make junior bankers do the same.
JPM’s Glassdoor rating went from a two-year high of 4.115 in November 2021, to a two-year low of 4.075 in December 2022. It currently sits at 4.078.
“For many of you, returning represents…a positive sign that we can engage more fully with the colleagues. For others, it may also be an unsettling change.” – Tim Cook
After several delays in implementation, the tech giant began its hybrid work pilot this Spring, when it began requiring employees to come to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Apple’s hybrid plan also gives employees the option to work remotely for up to one month every year. Shortly after, a group of 1,400+ current and former employees signed an open letter to the company, labeling its policy as “fearful of the future of work, worker autonomy, and losing control.”
Notably, the letter also said the policy would negatively impact Apple’s diversity, and lead to Apple becoming a “younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied” company.
Apple’s Glassdoor has remained relatively steady over the past two-years, ranging from 4.291, to a low of 4.219 in July of last year. Apple is currently at 4.242.
The Change Agents
Finally, we also examined a sampling of companies – Salesforce, Adobe, 3M, and Cisco – that have fully embraced hybrid work, and have no in-office mandate for employees. None have seen a meaningful increase or decrease (more than one-tenth of a percent) over that time.