by Brittany Raymer
Former Digital Writer & Editor
Working from home is a benefit many have enjoyed post-COVID but is it making companies less productive? As analysts review the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), one of factors being considered is the company’s liberal work from home policy—and it’s not just SVB. Major companies like Meta and Amazon are all trying to strong arm their employees back into the office on even a part-time basis.
So, is the great COVID-related experiment of hybrid working from home arrangements finally coming to an end? Perhaps.
When SVB had its specular collapse, the financial professionals and pundits began analyzing what went wrong, beyond the obvious. Was it the overt embracing of woke policies that emphasized identity over competency? Were the leaders too interested in taking unnecessary risks and pushing political ideologies over protecting shareholders and depositors? Or, perhaps, was it the company’s liberal work from home policy?
While all were contributors in some way or another, one of the factors getting more attention is its liberal work from home policy.
As The Post Millennial reports, “The bank’s top leadership worked from home including Greg Becker, SVB’s CEO, who was working from Hawaii. Its president, Mike Descheneaux, was working from Florida, and Laura Izurieta, the company’s chief risk officer, was working from a home in the Washington suburbs.”
It also apparently isn’t “cut-throat like Goldman Sachs.”
But looking back, it doesn’t seem like that worked out too well for the financial institution.
Today, SVB filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will go down in history as one of the nation’s largest bank collapses.
Beyond the financial implications, the discussion and debate over working from home arrangements is getting rather interesting.
In the initial days of the pandemic, companies relocated nearly all of their staff members back home. For many, the arrangement was not only great, but a welcome reprieve from the tireless grind to get into work and then get home. No more commutes meant more time with family and friends and working on household chores.
While listening to a staff meeting, employees could put a load into the laundry, put dishes in the dishwasher, etc.
It felt necessary in those initial days to “slow the spread.” However, three years post-lockdowns, companies are finding that employees are too comfortable at home and that productivity and perhaps competitiveness is waning in the calmness of the home office.
Meta (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get his teams back into the office. Bloomberg shared a recent bit of the company’s internal report showing 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.”
Amazon has also recently announced that it wants its staff members back in the office at least three days a week.
CEO Andy Jassy shared in a memo that 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.”
Some employees are pushing back against the demands, with one person telling The Seattle Times that “the company’s shooting themselves in the foot.”
Other major companies, including Seattle-based Microsoft, are also requiring their employees to return to the office at least part-time.
The ability to work from home has been an immense blessing to some, and in fact has helped with the growth of North Carolina. Cheaper living in the state has encouraged transplants to the state, who may now have to either leave or seek alternative employment.
COVID changed the world in so many ways. March 16 marks three years since government officials told the country to stay home to stop the spread. For most, the pandemic has been over for the last two. The great working from home experiment allowed the country to continue operating despite the chaos, but is it now over?