Meta’s new work policy seeks to rein in remote work pushback, Zoom CEO dismisses employee collaboration on the platform

Plus, what employees would do for a four-day work week.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at some news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Meta looking to crack down on employees who push back against the in-office mandate

Once a supporter of remote work, Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg is threatening consequences for employees who don’t comply with the company’s in-person work requirements. Reports state that employees will be tracked through ID cards and failure to appear as often as Zuckerberg and leadership determine necessary could result in poor performance reviews or even termination.

According to Yahoo! Finance:

Describing the shift as an “In-Person Time Policy,” Meta’s head of HR Lori Goler reiterated that from Sept. 5, it would be mandatory for all employees—except those with management-approved exemptions—to be back in the office three days a week.

Meta first told its employees in June that it was updating its remote work policy, meaning they would be expected to work from their assigned offices at least three days a week from September—a move that came much later than many of its Big Tech peers like Google, Apple, and Twitter.

The social media titan said at the time that this “distributed work” framework would allow its staff to “make a meaningful impact both from the office and at home.”

This about-face is surely disappointing for Meta’s employees who adjusted to working from home, but hardly surprising given Zuckerberg’s push to get his organization’s employees back in their physical offices.

If you want your employees back in the office, that’s one thing — to track their movements and threaten them with firing after getting used to working one way for years? That seems a bit extreme, and an approach that encourages healthy manager communications, including prompts and frameworks for productivity check-ins that put employees first, could have avoided some of the less-than-flattering press Meta has been receiving lately.

2. Zoom chief claims that employees can’t be as collaborative using their own product

Talk about irony. In a town hall that leaked to the media, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan claims that even his own platform can’t facilitate the kind of collaboration he desires.

According to Insider:

The top reason for the mandate, Yuan said at the August 3 meeting, is that it’s difficult for employees to get to know each other and know each other remotely.

“In our early days, we all knew each other,” Yuan said.

“Over the last several years, we’ve hired so many ‘Zoomies’ that it’s really hard to build trust.” He added, “Trust is a foundation for everything. Without trust, we will be slow.”

Yuan also said that people need to be in the physical office to innovate better, claiming “We cannot debate each other well because everyone is very friendly when you join a Zoom call.”

The fact that the leader of the platform that made remote work so easy is claiming that it doesn’t facilitate good conversation and innovation is a bit of a head-scratcher, and the fact that this memo leaked suggests that whoever leaked it sees a disconnect between the brand’s external perception and its internal culture.

At the end of the day, remote work is what your organization makes of it. If you have the proper support and structure in place to make it effective, it’ll be effective. If you communicate clearly with your team, they stand a great chance to work effectively from anywhere. But it’s curious when the company that helped make all of this possible is apparently lightly disparaging their own product that facilitates remote work just to get people back in their desk chairs.

3. Research shows that 4 out of 5 workers would make sacrifices for a four-day workweek

Wishing that you had one more day added to your weekend? If some recent research is believed, four-fifths of employees would make sacrifices for a shorter work week.

According to CNBC:

A majority of full-time workers and job seekers — 81% — support a four-day work week versus a traditional five-day schedule.

Of those workers, 89% said they would be willing to make sacrifices to work just four days.

“For better and for worse, we’ve learned a lot of lessons over these past several years, and one of those is how the nature of work has changed,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

The idea of the four-day work week has gained a lot of traction lately, and this is a further sign of said trend. We hear time and time again that flexibility is a major desire for today’s workforce, but while flexibility might have a wide definition, it shows that employees have needs. It’s up to us communicators to be attuned to them and provide messaging that acknowledges as much.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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