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What do CEOs have to say about the flexible future of work?

‘The new normal’, ‘future of work’, ‘post-pandemic workplace’ – these are just some of the stunning descriptors hybrid work models have received over the past year. 

Following the global economy’s entry into the pandemic era, many businesses have been swift in their decision to slash office space and move decisively towards flexible working. Just last year, office rents in Singapore suffered their sharpest decline in 11 years in the third quarter, following the reduced demand for commercial real estate due to COVID-19 disruptions. 

Similarly, Hong Kong was described as a ‘renter’s market’ earlier in the year. Businesses remained keen on downsizing operations despite the stabilised COVID-19 situation. SCMP reported that an additional 6 million square feet of office space would be made available by 2024. 

It’s no secret that the health crisis proved business operations across different industries to be far more durable and scalable than many business decision-makers had originally anticipated. While some executives have welcomed the era of flexible work with open arms, others have remained apprehensive about the accelerated shift away from the traditional office. 

Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify

‘Office centricity is over

Much like the digital nature of its service, Shopify made the decision to move its operations online as well – employees have been given the greenlight to work from home permanently. 

This doesn’t mean the death of shared workspaces for Shopify employees though. Remote work arrangements are to stay in place this year given the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis while Shopify reworks its offices for the new flexible future. 

If anything’s clear, it’s that Shopify isn’t betting on the return of the traditional pre-pandemic workplace. 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter

‘If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.’ 

In 2020, Dorsey joined the band of well-respected CEOs that have made the bold move towards permanent flexibility. Similarly, workplace flexibility was granted as an additional workplace arrangement option given the emotional, health and practical scheduling considerations employees faced in the pandemic. 

For those seeking some return to regularity, Dorsey reassured them that ‘our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return’.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

‘Good work can get done anywhere, and I’m even more optimistic that remote work at scale is possible’

Facebook gradually evolved its work policy to ‘allow full-time employees (to) continue working from home even after the pandemic if their job duties can be completed remotely’. Previously only experienced employees with strong performance reviews were allowed to be moved onto long-term remote work arrangements. 

Facebook’s decision comes at a time when a growing number of American employees are demanding the right to flexibility.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase and Co.

Work from home ‘doesn’t work for those who want to hustle’

JP Morgan expects all its US-based employees to be working from their old offices by early July this year. Dimon notably mentioned that permanent work-from-home arrangements ‘(don’t) work for spontaneous idea generation. It doesn’t work for culture’.

His concerns surrounding company culture and collaboration are shared by some executives apprehensive about the prolonged decentralisation of the office.

Despite Dimon’s stiffer approach towards demands for flexibility, JP Morgan Singapore recently cleared out 7 floors in Singapore’s Capital Tower in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

‘I don’t see any positives (to working from home)…Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.’

Inc.com noted that Hastings has previously emphasized on teamwork, results-based performance evaluation and minimal cross-functional meetings. All of which, ironically, seem aligned with the demands of the new flexible norm.

However, much like Dimon, Hastings shares similar concerns surrounding the maintenance of company synergy and internal cooperation. 

Key Summary

It’s clear that executives are split in their views surrounding remote work. While the return to the 5-day office is a dream for some managers, the majority of employees have expressed their willingness to quit jobs that don’t offer flexibility

Workplace norms may change with the times, however, all businesses are ultimately powered by people. It’s time for business leaders to start hearing their employees and adapting scheduling compromises when it comes to flexible work. 

About Deskimo

Deskimo is the flexible work platform of choice that helps businesses navigate the new future of work. With us, you and your business can adapt to flexible work, and pay-as-you-go across dozens of spaces in Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Download the app now.

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