CEOs from Elon Musk to Jamie Dimon have fought to get workers back into the office in 2022. Here’s who won, and who lost, the great war of returning to office

The world came one step closer to learning to live with COVID-19 in 2022, and in doing so, an increasing number of pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted. In many countries, that meant returning to office for the first time in two years.

The move away from government mandates to stay at home has led companies to question whether office workers could do their work from home on a permanent basis. And for many bosses the answer was very clear: no, they can’t.

With nearly half of American CEOs who want to order their staff to return to the officea battle soon broke out in many companies between bosses and workers whoever one or the other return to work policies ignored or actively rebelled against them.

Here, Fortune takes a look back at how major companies have tried, and in some cases, failed, to restore some form of in-person work this year.

Elon Musk, [hotlink ignore=”true”]Tesla and Twitter

No high-profile return to office list would be complete without mentioning the richest man in the world.

Musk caused a stir in June when he weighed — heavily — whether remote work should continue as economies move away from draconian COVID restrictions.

“Everyone at Tesla is expected to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” he said in an internal memo to Tesla employees. “If you don’t show up, we’ll assume you resigned.”

It was later reported that the Tesla CEO was receiving weekly reports detailing which electric car company employees were missing their office work.

However, getting back to work in person hasn’t exactly been smooth at Tesla, with many workers showing up to find there just weren’t enough desks or parking spaces for them.

Musk also enforced strict back-to-office mandates on Twitter after taking over the company in October, sending employees of the social media company an email in November clarifying he expected them to be in the office at least 40 hours a week. . Remote work, he told Twitter staffers, would be banned unless he personally approved it.

Prior to Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the company, Twitter’s policy was to allow its staff to work from anywhere “forever.” Musk, who has since cut Twitter staff by more than 50%, may have had an ulterior motive for reversing that policy: In April, he discussed in private messages how the move could boost 20% of Twitter staff. to resign voluntarily.


Attempts by Apple CEO Tim Cook to get the tech giant’s employees back into the office haven’t been easy either.

Over the summer, the company set a September deadline for its corporate employees to be in the office at least three days a week, after its earlier deadlines were derailed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Unlike Tesla and Twitter, which want their office staff full-time, Apple is aiming for a hybrid model that will see its employees at headquarters a few times a week. In August, Cook sent employees a memo touting the benefits of “collaborating in person,” but backed down from earlier, more stringent proposals to keep employees on the same fixed days each week.

Instead of appeasing its workforce, however, a group of Apple employees responded by launching a petition arguing that the company “should encourage, not ban, flexible working to build a more diverse and successful company.”

The policy also prompted a senior executive to resign from the company, saying he “strongly” believed that more flexibility would be the best policy for his team.

In an interview with CBS in November, Cook defended Apple’s push for hybrid work.

“We make products and you have to keep the product,” he said. “You have to collaborate with each other because we believe that one plus one equals three. So it takes the serendipity of running into people and bouncing ideas and caring enough to push your idea forward through someone else because you know they’ll make it a bigger idea.

He added: “That does not mean we will stay here five days. They were not. If you were here on a Friday it would be a ghost town.

Goldman Sachs

It’s no secret that Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has never seen remote working as a permanent practice at the bank: Last year he called working from home an “aberration” and “not the new normal.” .

However, its repeated insistence that employees return to the office full-time hadn’t yet resonated with staff when the investment banking giant reopened its US offices in February, with just half of its staff returning. he intruduced himself.

In October, however, Solomon told CNBC that 65% of Goldman’s staff were in the office on any given weekday, not far from the pre-pandemic level of 75% attendance.

While Solomon seems pleased with the effectiveness of the return-to-office mandate, his staff, especially young women, are still wary of the company’s aggressive push to end remote working.

JP Morgan

In his annual shareholder letter earlier this year, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said only 10% of employees are allowed to work remotely full-time. About half of the bank’s staff had to be in the office every day, he told investors, while the remaining 40% could split their time between home and headquarters.

The company made headlines in April when it was reported that it was tracking workers’ ID badges to figure out whether or not they were complying with its policy and making regular commutes to the office.

Dimon, like Tesla’s Musk and Goldman Sachs’ Solomon, has publicly lamented how remote work has, in his view, suppressed “spontaneous generation of ideas,” as well as leadership and training.


After two years of working remotely, Google’s parent company Alphabet called its staff back to the office in April.

The tech giant has told staff it wants them back on its campuses three times a week and has been bringing out the bigwigs in its efforts to bring them on board. In addition to a $9.5 billion investment in new offices, the company used arcade games, free food, and a Lizzo concert to try to attract its employees.

However, the first week’s roadworks created traffic chaos for Googlers, with some returning to the office to find they didn’t have a desk.

Google’s shift from remote working to its hybrid model also brought into play a controversial reality for the company’s 17,000 employees who had relocated during the pandemic: pay cuts. Staff who left New York or Mountain View, where employees are paid the most, were subject to pay cuts of up to 25%, depending on where they landed.


Like Google, beauty conglomerate L’Oréal has taken a staff bribery-based approach to establishing hybrid working as the norm.

The French cosmetics giant offers its employees a subsidized butler to help them with personal matters that might otherwise go up in smoke after they return to the office on a part-time basis.

For $5 an hour, L’Oréal employees can hire a concierge to pick up the laundry, take the car to the gas station, or take care of their dogs.

The L’Oréal offices also offer perks including a gym, juice café, and on-site shop selling beauty products.

Is it important to go back to the office?

Rich Handler, CEO of investment bank Jefferies, wrote in an Instagram post in June that those who show up to the office will prove their worth to bosses who may one day decide who to fire.

He also insisted that working remotely could be the difference between having a job and forging a career.

Handler isn’t alone in these claims, with future-of-work experts touting the benefits of returning to the office for millennial and Gen Z workers.

However, some bosses are simply fed up with giving their employees control over the decision.

According to a study earlier this year, 77 percent of executives are willing to impose “serious consequences” on workers who refuse to return to work in person, including firing them or cutting their pay.

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