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The Remote Working Sector: The Naysayers

As fast as the remote working sector is growing, no major shift in business or the future of work is going to be without its detractors. While many companies, experts, and influential people have been eager to embrace remote work, flexible working policies, and hybrid working models, some remain sceptical. So, who are these naysayers, and what’s their reasoning? How can employers with remote or hybrid policies take their concerns into account? Let’s have a look and find out:

Apple: The makers of the iPhone have always had a reputation for innovation and embracing the new, which is why their line against remote working may surprise some. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook has come out in favour of a return to the office, citing his belief that in-person collaboration is key to both innovation, and to managing the physical realities of the company. As a company that produces physical products, Cook believes Apple needs an in-person workforce to engage with the products.

However, Cook is not as strong a naysayer on remote work as his return-to-the-office policy might suggest. He’s quick to acknowledge the value of hybrid working, and understands, as he says in an interview with CBS, that an in-person team doesn’t mean a return to five days in the office for everyone, every week.

Goldman Sachs: While finance might seem like an industry that could easily transition to remote or hybrid working, financial giant Goldman Sachs remains unconvinced. CEO David Solomon has taken an aggressive stance on returning employees to the bank’s physical offices. But why? Solomon cites concerns over company culture, and that in an industry where many employees are quite young, the need for mentorship opportunities. However, with Goldman Sachs’ earning slumping in 2022, despite a lively labour market and office occupancy almost at pre-pandemic levels for the firm, while some of their London-based employees continue to negotiate for hybrid working schedules, they may have to rethink their policy.

Commercial Real Estate Industry: This one almost goes without saying. Commercial real estate as an industry has thrived under the assumption that the vast majority of businesses will need office space for their employees. A total shift to a remote model is a major threat to commercial real estate as an industry, as demand for office space decreases drastically under remote-first models. However, commercial real estate firms don’t need to panic; some experts predict that they can make themselves competitive in a changing market by offering flexible and shorter-term leases, which appeal to companies who are still navigating hybrid work models and will be attracted to a lower-commitment way to maintain an office.

Disney: One of the largest and most famous companies in the world, Disney recently made headlines when CEO Bob Iger announced at the start of 2023 that employees must return to the physical office for a minimum of four days per week. Iger justified his rejection of remote-heavy policies on the grounds that as a creative business, Disney’s products require collaborative input that can best be achieved by in-person work. As the change is recent, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the company—and whether alienating those who prefer remote or hybrid work will have a negative knock-on effect.

Bloomberg: While according to current and former Bloomberg employees on the employer-review site Glassdoor say Bloomberg’s employees have the option to periodically work remotely on a hybrid schedule, Bloomberg News, the popular business and finance publication, has been a longstanding naysayer for those who want to work entirely or primarily remotely. For 2023, Bloomberg predicts that a weakening economy may push employees back to the office out of fear for their jobs.

Bloomberg is one of many business news outlets that have shown some scepticism about remote work. However, others, like the Harvard Business Review, offer a more nuanced take, with differences of opinion between employers and employees noted, and best practices on managing a hybrid workforce considered. And nuance is key. While the remote work naysayers may sound like they’re bearers of bad news, accounting for their concerns can help create remote and hybrid working models that work even better for employers and employees alike.

A final note from the team…

Help us help you make Remote Working a success – for you or your organisation. The more we learn from each other, the better Remote Working will be for all.

If you’re currently involved in Remote Working, you are a Remote Working expert in your own right.

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Thank you
Your wofome team



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