Disney to employees: Working in the office four days a week

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The Walt Disney Co. is asking its employees to spend more time in the office, becoming one of the biggest media companies to join employers growing increasingly impatient with pandemic labor standards.

On Monday, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger told employees working hybrid schedules they would be required to start coming in four days a week after March 1, citing the company’s need for in-person collaboration. Most employees were required to come three days a week under the hybrid program, similar to arrangements made by other media giants such as NBCUniversal and Warner Bros.

“In a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe and create with peers that comes from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors. “, said Iger in a message sent. to employees and shared with The Washington Post. “I am convinced that working together more in person will benefit the creativity, the company culture and the careers of our employees.”

Disney declined to elaborate on the matter beyond what was stated in Iger’s post.

Disney joins companies such as Snap and Vanguard in asking employees to spend more time in offices in 2023. While some companies have taken strong stances to return to the office as the coronavirus pandemic recedes, others exercised caution for fear of losing employees to blank terms. -hot job market. But as layoffs mount, especially among tech companies that have historically favored remote working, the balance of power has shifted to employers, and some are using it to try to bring people together in no one.

“You’ve seen a lot of companies and CEOs say they want people to come back more than they are,” said Andy Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “I think a lot of companies have been waiting to make these changes.”

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Offices in 10 of the country’s major metropolitan areas remained less than half as full as they were before the pandemic as of late December, according to scan data tracked by Kastle Systems.

Many employers have hybrid policies in place but only recently began threatening to enforce them, Challenger said, with some saying being lax is unfair to employees who come in regularly.

Over the next year, a clearer picture will emerge of what “balance” will look like in the labor landscape, he said.

It’s not just companies pushing for fuller returns to offices — there’s also pressure from cities whose downtowns have suffered from the shift to remote working. DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has called on President Biden to bring federal workers back to their offices more frequently or reconsider how that real estate is used. In October, vacancies in trade offices in Washington were 15.1%, down from 11.8% in 2020.

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During his swearing-in ceremony earlier this month, Bowser urged the Biden administration “either to bring most federal workers back to the office, most of the time, or to realign their vast properties for use by local government, by nonprofits, by businesses, and by any user who wants to revitalize it,” according to ABC.

While some companies such as Goldman Sachs have had employees back in their offices full-time since 2021, others have taken a more phased approach in response to widespread employee demands for continued flexibility.

General Motors plans to bring employees back to the office three days a week at the end of January after about two years of working remotely. The company tried to bring back employees last year, but resisted in the face of internal backlash.

“While we have maintained a highly collaborative culture for the past two years during a very challenging time, the intangible benefits of in-person collaboration are going to be a critical success factor as we enter a period of rapid launches,” GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in a memo to employees last year, according to CNBC. “This evolution is about being ready for the next phase of our transformation.”

According to Stefanie Camfield, human resources consultant and assistant general counsel at Engage PEO, companies that bring employees back to their offices are usually concerned about collaboration or productivity issues.

But as she explains to her clients, which are mostly small and medium-sized businesses, employees have demonstrated that they won’t accept tough assignments or shifts that don’t consider their well-being.

“The ‘just because we’ve always done it that way’ doesn’t seem to cut it with employees at this point,” Camfield said. “You will have a good reason. You don’t want employees to think it’s a matter of trust.

Even for companies that embarked on remote work earlier in the pandemic, the office still has some attraction, according to Benjamin Blumenthal, principal broker at Noah & Co., an office space expert in Manhattan. He said the customers he sees these days are looking for more bang for their buck. In some cases, they are even willing to increase their budgets if it means they will get “an outsized advantage”.

“At the end of the day, there seems to be a consensus among leaders that an office is an essential part of an organization,” Blumenthal said. “But what that means – three days, five days, who, what, how, where and when – remains to be seen.”

Remote job openings have gradually declined, according to data from job site LinkedIn, but remain high compared to pre-pandemic levels. Remote ads peaked in March 2022, when they made up more than 20% of all paid posts, up from less than 10% in January 2021, according to LinkedIn data.

In November 2022, only 14% of paid posts on the site invited remote applicants, despite a widespread desire for flexible working among job seekers.

“Candidates’ appetite for such positions is so strong that remote jobs in recent months have received up to 50% of all applications tracked by LinkedIn – even though such positions represent just 15% of the job pool. total,” the company said. in an analysis published last week.

Lee, who spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his middle name to speak freely about his employer, is an environmental consultant in Oregon. He returned to full-time work at the office last week for the first time since the pandemic forced the shift to remote working.

“The dream is over,” he said.

Now that he’s back under fluorescent lights and surrounded by colleagues eight hours a day, he feels tempted to pursue other opportunities. The job postings that have crept into his LinkedIn account suddenly seem much more attractive.

“I don’t mind coming a few days a week,” he said. “But there has to be a bit of flexibility in that.”

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