Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has doubled down on its return-to-office policy, with the social media giant's Head of People Lori Goler telling workers that a failure to meet the company’s minimum attendance requirements could result in termination.
In early June, Meta announced it would be asking employees that had not been specifically designated as remote workers to return to the office three days a week, starting early September. That policy update came in the wake of several rounds of mass layoffs at the company, during which time CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the benefits of in-office work.
"Engineers earlier in their career perform better on average when they work in-person with teammates at least three days a week,” he claimed in a statement posted on his Facebook page and Meta’s news blog in March.
This week, Goler announced more details about the return-to-office policy, in an internal post on Meta's Workplace platform Thursday. “As we shared in June, beginning September 5, people assigned to an office need to spend at least three days per week working in person to foster healthy relationships and strong collaboration,” Goler wrote in the post, first published by Business Insider.
However, activities such as meeting with clients will count toward an employee’s “in person working” quota and if workers take personal time off, sick days or have travel or family emergencies to deal with, they will not be expected to make up these missed days with additional in-office attendance.
“Accountability will be central to making this [policy] fair and effective,” Goler said, adding that going forward, managers will need to review employee attendance records on a monthly basis and follow up with those who didn't meet the requirements, subject to local law requirements.
“As with other company policies, repeated violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including a Performance@ rating drop and, ultimately, termination if not addressed,” she wrote.
Under the new policy, workers who have been hired specifically in a remote capacity are being asked not to attend the office more than four days a month, unless there’s a “clear business reasons” for them to be there.
Meta has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Big Tech turns its back on remote work
Meta is the third so-called Big Tech company to recently announce it is rolling back on its post-pandemic remote work strategy. Last week, both Zoom and Amazon announced they would be requiring workers to be back in the office for two and three days a week, respectively.
Earlier this year, Google came under fire for requiring most of its employees to work from the office three days a week and announcing that attendance would be tied to performance reviews.
Research has shown that return to office mandates are unpopular with employees and some studies suggest that they often do little to address issues of productivity that organisations believe have stemmed from remote work policies.
Despite 69 per cent of business leaders having concerns about collaboration and engagement, and 54 per cent of human resources leaders believing their employees are less connected to their organisations than before the pandemic, research and advisory firm Gartner found that employees are 1.6 times more likely to perform better when their teams are dispersed in different locations and time zones.
Furthermore, among employees with “radical flexibility,” 53 per cent reported a high degree of connectedness, whereas just 18 per cent of those with low flexibility did so.