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Behind the Curtain Pt. 1: Workplace Strategies in Action

workplace strategy
Becky Chariton
Published on

How do you hybrid? That’s the question everyone has been asking since the pandemic shot us into a new world of working possibilities. 

Creating a workplace strategy without any playbook is no small task. That’s why so much of the hybrid work narrative has been around trial and error. We are all figuring out what our working lives will look like and leaders are trying to find a solution that is good for both employees and the company’s bottom line. 

We want to take a peek behind the curtain of hybrid work strategies. What models have different companies adopted? What reactions did they get from their teams? 

Let’s learn from each other. In this series we’ll be looking at a range of companies, varying in industry and size, to paint a better picture of the different approaches to workplace strategies.

For Part 1, we’re looking at Tech & Finance. Let’s dive in.

1. Apple

Industry: Tech

Company Size: 150,000+ 

Headquarters: Cupertino, California

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, in office 3 days a week

Over the past several months, Apple has repeatedly made headlines for their return to office policies. They’ve tried multiple hybrid work strategies, made adjustments due to COVID-19, and dealt with pushback from their teams. Despite the ups and downs, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made it clear that he wants people working from the office at least part of the time. 

Apple’s latest plan will go into effect September 5, 2022. Corporate Apple employees will be required to go to the office a minimum of 3 days per week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and a 3rd regular day that will be determined by individual teams. 

While leadership is hoping to increase in-office collaboration, employees at Apple are still pushing for a more flexible strategy. AppleTogether, an organized group of Apple employees, believes “that Apple should encourage, not prohibit flexible work to build a more diverse and successful company.” 

Apple’s journey to hybrid work is a prime example of trial and error. When their first plan was released Tim Cook said their workplace strategy would be updated and reevaluated over time. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments, if any, are made after AppleTogether’s petition is submitted. We’ll be sure to follow along.

2. Hubspot

Industry: Tech

Company Size: 6,000+

Headquarters: Cambridge, MA

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, flexible work options

Hubspot’s hybrid workplace strategy puts the power in their people’s hands. Once a year, Hubspot employees are encouraged to select one of three work options: @home, @office, or @flex. Each option comes with different benefits based on how much time each employee will be spending in the office. 

For example, if an employee chooses @home that means they’ll be spending a majority of their time at home and Hubspot will make sure they have what they need to do their best work. On the opposite end, @office means most of their time will be spent in the office, so they’ll have a dedicated seat with an in-house tech set up.

This people-first approach embraces flexibility and prioritizes work-life balance. Allowing their teams to decide where they work best instills a sense of trust and promotes productivity. 

3. Amazon

Industry: Tech

Company Size: 600,000+ (corporate)

Headquarters: Seattle, WA

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, schedule based on team decisions

Like many tech giants, Amazon originally planned on calling their employees back to the office in 2021. All teams would be required to go into the office at least 3 days a week. Recently, they’ve shifted their plan and opted for a more flexible approach.

Rather than implement an organizational wide mandate, work schedules are being determined by individual teams, specifically those at Director levels. Based on core responsibilities, some teams will continue to work remotely, others hybrid, and others will be in the office full time.

Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy said it best “At a company of [Amazon’s] size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best.” For a large company like Amazon, letting decisions about work schedules trickle down to individual teams allows leaders to set rules and expectations that align with their specific area of work. 

4. Capital One

Industry: Finance

Company Size: 50,000+

Headquarters: McLean, VA

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, in office 3 days a week

In May 2022, Capital One announced they would be fully reopening all of their U.S. offices in a hybrid model. Starting September 6, their teams will spend their time working both remotely and in-person each week.

From May to September, Capital One’s offices were open on a voluntary basis, giving themselves and their team members ample time to prepare for the transition. Their choice to embrace a fully hybrid model comes from the realization that there are benefits to both remote and in-person work.

“Remote work can be both effective and empowering,” says CEO Rich Fairbank, “Our commutes are a lot shorter. Our daily schedules are more efficient. Life’s demands don’t always fit around a 9-to-5 work schedule.” He also notes the value of in-person connection. the office provides “unique opportunities for planned collaboration, innovation, and mentorship.”

5. J.P. Morgan Chase

Industry: Finance

Company Size: 50,000+

Headquarters: McLean, VA

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, optional time in the office

J.P. Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, is not a fan of remote work and it’s been all over the news. Despite doubts over hybrid work, J.P. Morgan is not currently requiring teams to come into the office, unless their jobs cannot be done at home. The rest of the company either comes in a few days a week or works from home entirely.

Although employees appreciate the freedom, they have expressed concern about job cuts based on time spent in the office. J.P. Morgan is tracking who comes in when based on ID swipes, and even though this can provide helpful insight into future planning for the office, it has also given employees a sense of fear.

An important aspect of hybrid work is trusting your teams. Tracking how often people come as a  measure of productivity isn’t a very trusting practice. Teams may be more motivated to go into the office, but the fear and pressure could also backfire. When in doubt, trust your people to make the right choice. 

6. Citi

Industry: Finance

Company Size: 200,000+

Headquarters: New York, NY

Workplace Strategy: Hybrid, 2 days in the office required

Similar to other companies, Citi was hoping for a full return to the office, but as time went on they realized a compromise was in order. As of March 2022, Citi is operating on a fully remote model where teams are required to come in 2 days a week.

Citi has been operating on a hybrid work model since 2021 and has made adjustments along the way due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Staff will be expected to return to the office as they continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed.

Sara Wetcher, Head of Human Resources at Citi said that they are planning to move forward with their plan: "Although COVID-19 may never fully go away, we are seeing promising developments." 

One Size Does Not Fit All

Hybrid work is a process, not a project. Changes will continue to happen as we all learn what good, flexible workplace strategies look like. Keep adapting, keep learning and keep an eye out for our next roundup of workplace strategies.

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Find out if your workplace strategy is a hit or a miss.

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