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People are getting too comfortable working from home. So comfortable that companies, such as IBM, have decided to replace a lot of jobs with AI. And with productivity taking a nosedive, now, companies have decided to call employees back to the office to boost morale, promote team work, and speed up productivity. But employees are dragging their feet and it’s a tussle once again.
Most recently, Meta took the tough call of reducing its hybrid work culture and has decided to call employees to office thrice a week. And starting September, the company will clamp down on remote work completely. Meta is not alone. A lot of companies are doing this to fix the work culture in the tech industry and bring things back on track.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, a fireside chat, said that remote working was a mistake. “The experiment on that [hybrid working] is over. The technology is not yet so good that people can be remote forever, particularly at startups,” said Altman.
In Meta’s case, the company has been laying people off since last year, with the numbers reaching 10,000. With this, the company left a lot of its employees vulnerable and worried if they would survive at Meta, lowering the morale at the company, according to sources. Meta has completely stopped hiring for remote jobs and is cracking the whip, with founder Mark Zuckerberg saying that people who work at office must “get more work done”.
Employees are not happy
Recently, Amazon too announced its return-to-office mandate. This, along with the series of firings of around 27,000 employees, has backfired on the company. A lot of employees have been protesting and petitioning against the policy, while also complaining about the “toxic” work culture at the company.
CEO Andy Jassy has asked employees to come to office at least thrice a week and work collaboratively. Miffed with the “high-handedness”, around 1,800 employees have staged a walk-out in front of the Amazon’s Spheres building in Seattle. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) and Amazon’s Remote Advocacy community leaders are pledging against the return-to-work mandate.
One of the reasons cited for the protest is that coming back to office would deepen the climate crisis. The unhappy employees have joined an internal Slack channel to protest against the mandate with virtual protests gathering heat. A lot of companies believe that working from home is not as productive as it was thought to be. Apple announced the same move in August last year, Disney wanted its employees to work four days a week from the office, Google stated the same in April last year.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna is all in to bring employees back to office. The company has been giving presentations, and making people comfortable with working in the office again, in like a “reorientation”. On the contrary, IBM has planned to replace 7,800 jobs with AI and also threatened that people who work remotely would have to struggle to get promotions.
‘You have AI, you don’t need us‘
According to a recent Microsoft report, 83 percent Indian employees are ready and willing to delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workload. The same report said that three out of four leaders are concerned about lack of innovation due to this, blaming ineffective meetings as one of the major reasons.
If we talk about the climate crisis, working remotely contributes to a significant amount of energy consumption through video conferencing and accessing everything on the internet as all of it contributes to the load on the data centres.
Moreover, according to the same report, managers and employers do not trust their employees to work as efficiently at home as they do in the office. They might just “pretend to work”, said Elon Musk. On the flip side, a lot of reports also showed a boost in productivity when employees worked from home. Well, there has been so much productivity boost that people have been working multiple jobs at the same time with the help of AI, calling themselves, “overemployed”.
Meanwhile, companies such as Apple have been banning technologies like ChatGPT citing privacy concerns. According to another study by MIT, generative AI technology like ChatGPT is expected to raise productivity of workers by a minimum of 14%.
For the benefits of the employers, working remotely allows you to hire talent from across the globe, who are not willing to shift to the office for several reasons like increased rent and pointless commute for a job that can be done from home. As for the employees, as Musk put it, “get off the high horse”, and get to work.