Companies Finally Admit They Don’t Know When They’re Returning to Offices

Google, Apple, CNN, and Ford have all postponed their "Return to Office" date, reports the New York Times. (Alternate URL here.) The Times also cites a Gartner survey of 238 executives in late August which found two-thirds of organizations were delaying returning to offices because of coronavirus variants. The chief people officer at DocuSign even said "I can't even remember all the dates we've put out there, and I'm the one who put them out there," while Lyft said the earliest that workers would be required to return to the office is 2023. Return-to-office dates used to be like talismans; the chief executives who set them seemed to wield some power over the shape of the months to come. Then the dates were postponed, and postponed again. At some point the spell was broken. For many companies, office reopening plans have lost their fear factor, coming to seem like wishful thinking rather than a sign of futures filled with alarm clocks, commutes and pants that actually button. The R.T.O. date is gone. It's been replaced with "we'll get back to you." "The only companies being dishonest are the ones giving employees certainty," said Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford professor who advises dozens of chief executives. "As a parent you can hide stuff from your kids, but as a C.E.O. you can't do that to adult employees who read the news." Some workers have returned to their cubicles in recent months, with office occupancy across the United States rising from 33 percent in August to 40 percent this month, according to data from Kastle Systems, a building security firm. But the visions of full-scale reopenings and mandatory returns, which formed as vaccines rolled out last spring, have remained nebulous... "Folks have hedged appropriately this time around and they understand that it's a dialogue with their employees, not a mandate," said Zach Dunn, co-founder of the office space management platform Robin. Thanks to Long-time Slashdot reader theodp for submitting this story!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.