After big tech companies like Facebook and Google spent billions on cool office spaces and perks designed to keep workers at the office, those workers were suddenly able to do their jobs closer to home life and family during the pandemic. Office work was no longer the default, and many employees liked that.
Now, with the country reopening, tech companies are increasingly announcing their back-to-office plans. To understand the current job landscape facing tech workers, we examined the new office polices for more than 15 tech companies—from hybrid approaches that still favor in-person work to extreme flexibility to keep workers happy.
These policies are largely informed by the tech job market right now. Many tech workers—especially those with proven accomplishments and marketable skills—are looking around at other job opportunities, according to recruiters. A decision to change jobs might be swayed by the offer of more flexibility around remote work, which has put some tech companies in a bind. For them, it’s all about attracting and retaining top talent, and losing it is extremely costly. Tech company work policies should be read as highly strategic bids to keep talent happy in the pandemic’s wake.
Even though much of the country has reopened, the delta variant’s spread has confused and delayed those strategies even more. Companies don’t want to push fearful workers, nor do they want their employees getting sick. Even fully vaccinated workers risk contracting the delta variant, and those workers can be carriers who might infect unvaccinated coworkers at the office. Since most tech companies are relying on the honor system when it comes to workers’ vaccination status, a delta outbreak is a possibility. (At some companies it’s considered intrusive and antisocial to even ask the question, one recruiter told me.)