Just last month Apple postponed its plan after more than 1,000 current and former employees signed an open letter called the plan inefficient, inflexible and a waste of time.
"Stop treating us like school kids who need to be told when to be where and what homework to do," they wrote. It was yet more evidence of the shift in the balance of power between management and rank and file, as demand for workers has hit record highs in the past year.
Companies are finding it hard to enforce unpopular policies and mandates when they fear their workers could just walk away.
Google maps workers, who are employed by the tech company Cognizant, also decided to fight back. They connected with the Alphabet Workers Union and signed a petition citing COVID fears, the costs of commuting amid $5 gas, and the increase in productivity and morale that employees have experienced while working from home. "Our first day back to the Bothell office full-time will now be September 6," the company said in a statement released on Thursday.
Even as some companies seek to bring back some semblance of office life, others are asking: What is the office for anyway?
Apparently, Big Tech is discovering that the role of middle managers, whose job is just to hold irritating meetings full of jargon is going the way of the dinosaur. While no one thought they had a use before, their pointless function and cost was shown up by working from home.
The New York Times also reported that some corporate leaders "might find themselves fighting a culture shift beyond their control. "If the pandemic's two-plus years of remote work experimentation have taught us anything, it's that many people can be productive outside the office, and quite a few are happier doing so."
Even as the pandemic has changed course, there are signs that the work-from-home trend is actually accelerating. One recent survey published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that employers are now saying they will allow employees to work from home an average of 2.3 days per week, up from 1.5 days in the summer of 2020.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that almost all of the major cities with the biggest drops in office occupancy during the pandemic had an average one-way commute of more than 30 minutes; and most cities with the smallest drops had shorter commutes.