There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the future of where we work. The pandemic has completely revolutionised the way we think about offices, remote working, and employees’ workplace needs—meaning there’s no longer a “standard” way of working.
As such, different companies have responded in different ways. From Amazon to Twitter, even the world’s most famous names are opting for very different post-pandemic workplace strategies. For some, the WFH experience has been so positive that they’ve now chosen to go fully remote. Others stand firm in their belief that going back to the office is the best option—and some have even done a U-turn. And of course, many companies are now opting for a more “hybrid” approach.
But which of the world’s major players believe the office is here to stay, and which have ditched their leases altogether?
Below, we’ve sifted through the noise and gathered key insights into how 25+ of the world’s most famous companies are approaching their future workplace strategies. We’ll also be keeping this article updated as and when more information becomes available—so make sure you bookmark the page to stay up to speed.
First up, we’ve got the companies who’ve identified that most work will continue to occur in the office. However, this isn’t to say that these companies won’t allow any remote work for their employees. Rather, these organisations have publicly indicated that the office remains the primary workplace.
David Soloman, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has been keen to get his 60,000 employees back to their desks ASAP. Speaking in a Bloomberg Television interview, he states, “I certainly would expect a lot of Goldman Sachs employees back in full by the end of the year.”
Back then, Goldman Sachs had no plans to mandate vaccinations. But from September 7th 2021, the investment bank said that all US employees, along with clients and visitors, will need to be fully-jabbed to gain access to any of its buildings.
Here in London, Goldman Sachs International chief executive, Richard Gnodde, has taken a different approach. In July, Gnodde confirmed that workers returning to their London offices will not need to show proof of vaccination, but they will be required to wear masks while inside the building—despite government restrictions easing in June.
Arguably the most outspoken business leader around remote working, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings apparently doesn’t “see any positives” to working from home. In an interview with the WSJ, he stated: “Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.”
Whilst Hastings is keen to get his team back into the office; he’s still waiting until it’s safe to do so—jokingly stating that his employees will return ‘within 12-hours after a vaccine is approved’ last September. While office workers are currently not required to show proof of vaccination, Netflix’s cast and crew will need to be vaccinated in order to work at their studios.
The hybrid camp is seemingly the most popular amongst the big names. But as you’ll see in the examples below, what “hybrid” actually means can vary drastically from company to company.
Each of these organisations has opted for their own unique workplace configuration; for some, this involves giving all employees the freedom to choose where they want to work, whenever they want to work there. Others choose to implement more structured policies— for instance, designating certain days or times to be in the office and allowing employees to work remotely for the rest of the time.
In June 2021, Adobe’s Chief People Officer, Gloria Chen, confirmed that the company would be opting for the hybrid approach. In a blog post, Chen outlined how employees will spend half their time working in the office and home.
“We’ll gather for the moments that matter: We will have an intentional mix of physical and virtual presences, with in-person gatherings driven by purpose and designed for collaboration,” Chen wrote.
Last April, Jeff Bezos said that its employees would return to the office full time this autumn. However, Amazon is yet another business giant to make a U-turn. They’re now opting for a hybrid scheme that allows their employees to work from home two days per week.
The management team will determine which two days their employees can work remotely—and they must request a permit to do so. If approved, Amazon will consider the employee as “primarily” a remote worker, with an “agile, non-dedicated” workspace for in-person collaborations.
Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook implied that the company’s success during the pandemic could enable more flexibility to work remotely in the future—though he still sees the value of colleagues and teams working together in person.
So, in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent employees an email that asked them to return to the office for three days per week—Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate,” he says.
Apple employees addressed Tim Cook in an open letter, expressing their concerns and asking for the policy to change—but Apple has denied that request. As of now, remote positions will be minimal and decided on a “case-by-case” basis.
Asda is yet another company to opt for the hybrid approach. Once restrictions ease, the supermarket group said they’ll allow 4,000 employees based in their Leeds and Leicester offices to choose where they work.
“Our staff will have the flexibility to work from home when it’s more productive to do so, such as tasks that involve planning or research”, Asda said. But when employees are needed for team meetings or training sessions, they’ll be encouraged to attend in person.
But all in all, the trust is there. Asda also said its new hybrid approach would encourage employees to select the best place to do their job—whether that’s their home, the head office or even a store or depot.
The Bank of England has also announced they’ll adopt a hybrid workplace strategy after July 19—with one day in the office and the rest at home. The bank’s Chief Operating Officer, Joanna Place, recently spoke to the Investment Association on how they came to this decision:
“A recent survey of Bank staff showed that the majority hope to work from home at least two days per week”, she said. “We’ve established a set of trial guidelines—and which we are positioning as a pilot—to encourage more flexible working”. Ms Place also mentioned how bosses would encourage their staff to hold collaborative, in-person “team days” in the office.
Canva has announced they’ll commit a flexible work model for its employees long-term. The company has said they’ll focus on flexibility and connection, while abolishing any formal rules that were previously in place around office attendance.
Now, employees are expected to come into the office just 8 times per year. Canva said this decision was put in place after internal research, including a survey showing 81% of its teams saying they wanted to continue balancing working from the HQ with remote work even when all restrictions are eased in Australia.
This coming autumn, Capital One will officially be a hybrid company. Writing in a recent blog post, the finance giant outlined that a significant chunk of their employees will split their time between working remotely and in the office—as well as supporting fully remote options.
But in their hybrid strategy, Capital One has outlined a few non-negotiables. Mondays and Fridays will be company-wide remote workdays where employees can choose where they work best. On the remaining days, Capital One’s offices will be fully open where employees can collaborate and spend meaningful time with their colleagues.
Last May, Citigroup Inc made it clear that they don’t see remote working as a permanent company strategy—but it appears the company has made a slight U-turn.
CEO Jane Fraser recently wrote that most roles in the bank would become hybrid where staff can work remotely for up to two days per week. James Bardwick, the company’s UK Chief Executive, echoed this by stating the “vast majority” of its workers will return to the office three days per week if restrictions ease on the 19th July.
Deutsche Bank CEO James von Moltke has said the bank plans to allow staff to work remotely for up to three days per week. As far as large banks go, this policy is considered “one of the most flexible” return-to-work policies out there.
“The decision will really be up to the employees”, von Moltke recently told Bloomberg in a television interview. “But in a structured way with their managers, so we know when people are expected to come to the office.”
After collaborating with leaders and employees alike, DoorDash has announced they’ll transition from their official (WFH) guidance to a hybrid work model in January 2022.
In a blog post, DoorDash gave “flexibility” and “recognising that every team’s needs are different” as reasonings for the change. “This new hybrid approach will enable us to best support our people and the work we do, together”, a spokesperson wrote.
Walt Disney Co. is cautiously reopening its U.S. offices after July 4th, where only a fraction of its employees will initially return—and the rest by October 2021.
The staggered start is partially due to vaccine rollouts. “Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees,” a spokesperson for Disney said in a statement.
Therefore, Disney’s office locations will be open three days per week, with employees having the flexibility to work remotely for the remaining two days.
In July 2021, eBay reopened most of its California offices—with its CEO, Jamie Iannone, welcoming back his staff on LinkedIn. “As we slowly start to come back to the office, that can bring its range of challenges and emotions. But right now, after spending my first year as CEO getting to know our community on screens, I am thrilled to start meeting our team in person,” Iannone wrote.
What’s more, eBay employees can come into the office voluntarily—allowing them the flexibility and choice to work wherever they feel most comfortable.
Accountancy firm EY has told 17,000 of its staff that they expect them to work from home for at least two days per week—even after pandemic restrictions ease.
In a video call, the company informed employees that they’d be moving to a “hybrid working model” of both home and office work—as well as visits to clients—once July 19th comes.
Facebook’s 50,000+ employees have been working remotely since March 2020, and CEO Mark Zuckerburg is said to be considering the benefits of a remote workforce. That May, he claimed he could see half of Facebook’s employees permanently working remotely within the next 5-10 years.
And last month, this started to come into effect. In a bid to double down on flexibility, Facebook announced that all employees across the company could request to work remotely full-time after the pandemic—after previously stating that only those in senior roles could.
For employees whose work requires them to be in an office or those who are waiting for remote-work approval, Facebook is suggesting they be in an office at least 50% of the time, and they will be able to enjoy a hybrid offering for the foreseeable future.
Opting for a more uniform and structured implementation of hybrid working, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has stated that he wants to introduce more flexibility into the company’s working practices, but informed employees by email in December 2020 that they will still be expected to work in the office at least three times a week—meaning they’ll still be required to live near their office.
But until then, the initial return period will be voluntary as their offices are operating on a limited capacity—due to the vaccinations and an upward trend in Covid-19 cases. And in a push for more flexibility, Google said employees could work from home overseas for more than 14-days per year if they apply for it.
But in August 2021, Google announced that employees in the US who opt to work from home permanently may get a pay cut. The tech giant has developed a pay calculator which lets employees see the costs of working remotely. As of now, Google has no plans to implement this policy in the UK.
Grammarly is opting for a “remote-first” hybrid model—which essentially means that their modes of collaboration will assume every team member is remote. The writing tools company’s CEO, Brad Hoover, outlined the plan in a blog post, stating that their offices will transform into “hubs” whereby teams can work or hold face-to-face meetings if need be.
In April, HSBC CEO Noel Quinn wrote in a LinkedIn post that most of the bank’s roles—including his and the executive team’s—will be done in a hybrid way. While employees can choose between remote and office work, Quinn mentioned that he and his leadership team would work in a “fully open plan office with no designated desks” upon returning.
At the Canary Wharf office in London, executives will no longer have their own offices. Instead, they’ll hot desk with other colleagues—a true hybrid and collaborative style.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of the banking giant, cited the need for a flexible, hybrid model after speaking critically about remote work in May. “I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings”, he told the Wall Street Journal Council Summit. “I’m done with it.”
As a result, J.P. Morgan Chase will be adopting a hybrid approach. In his annual letter to shareholders, Dimon wrote that “many employees” will work in the office full time, “some employees” will operate under a hybrid model”, and 10% of employees with “very specific roles” will work remotely full-time.
This decision refers back to Daniel Pinto’s, the company’s Co-President and COO, comments from last August. Pinto stated that a rotational model—where employees work a few days in the office and a couple of days at home—was most likely, as it would reduce demand for office space, support their sustainability efforts, and help make significant savings.
In addition to Dimon’s dislike for Zoom, the move to hybrid working was also fueled by productivity dips among the sales and trading teams—particularly on Mondays and Fridays. So, it’s likely that employees in these sectors will be needed in the office during these days.
Back in May 2021, accounting and consultancy group KPMG told its 16,000 UK employees that they’d only work in the office for an average of two days per week. But of course—they had to delay their plans after the government extended June 21st.
But their hybrid strategy is looking good for July 19th. Under the new initiative, the “Four Day Fortnight”, KPMG employees will have the flexibility to work from home or at client sites for the remaining three days. During the summer months of 2021, the accounting giant also gives their staff an extra 2.5 hours off each week to avoid burnout by “giving people time away from work and re-energise”.
Lyft is yet another business giant to postpone their employees’ return to the office. The ride-hailing company has pushed for a 6-month extension to provide a “buffer of several weeks”, so that their teams can safely settle into their assigned offices after the winter break. From there, Lyft plans to have most of its workforce back in offices by February 2022.
But in the meantime, Lyft is adopting a hybrid strategy. While employees can work remotely, Lyft’s offices have remained open for employees who’d prefer to come in—but as of August 4th 2021; they’ll need to submit proof of vaccination before entering the building.
Microsoft has told employees that they can work from home part-time on a permanent basis without needing formal approval from their managers.
The company will cover home office expenses, but those who opt for the permanent remote work option will lose their assigned office space. They will, however, be able to use “touchdown space” available at Microsoft’s offices.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasised these policies and changes in a LinkedIn post, whereby he wrote that “hybrid work represents the biggest shift to how we work in our generation—and it’ll require a new operating model, spanning people, places, and processes”.
In June 2021, Morgan Stanley’s (MS) CEO, James Gorman, made headlines when he said he expects his New York employees to return to offices by Labor Day (Sept. 6). “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office—and we want you in the office,” Gorman said at an investing conference.
While the banking giant has not mandated vaccination, Gorman hailed the success of the vaccine rollout as a primary reason for employees to return. “Over 90% of employees have already received their Covid-19 vaccinations”, he said.
However, Gorman recognised that some employees might not be able to get vaccinated, so the bank will continue to consider employees’ returns on a case-by-case basis. He was also quick to note that the company would not be “dictatorial” towards employees who can’t always work in the office—stating that many working parents will need to work from home when their children are not in schools or summer camps.
Nationwide has announced a permanent transition to a hybrid model, with employees working from the office in the four main corporate offices and working from home in the other locations.
Thirteen thousand of the UK’s biggest building society’s staff can work where they want—even once restrictions ease. This initiative, Work Anywhere, came after 57% of their employees said they’d like to work from home full time. A further 36% said they wanted a blend of home and office work.
Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker said: “Our associates and our technology team have proven to us that we can serve our members and partners with extraordinary care and a large portion of our team working from home.”
Natwest has also decided on a hybrid approach. The business giant stated that over a third of its 59,300 UK full-time employees would continue to work from home. A further 55% would adopt a blend of office and remote work.
NatWest chief executive, Alison Rose, spoke candidly about how their future workplace strategy was forward-thinking. “I would say that we’ve busted the myth that jobs need to be done in a certain way,” she recently told staff. “We have learnt new ways of working, and it’s important we carry those learnings forward.”
Ocado Group, the tech firm behind the online grocer, are now allowing employees to work abroad for one month per year as part of their hybrid strategy. The firm’s Chief People Officer, Claire Ainscough, gave “balance and choice” as primary reasons for the move.
Ainscough said the flexible policy answered a “top question” from staff—specifically those who had relatives living abroad and would rather not use up their leave to simply visit them.
Just 6-months into the pandemic, Reddit announced that it’d switch to a hybrid workplace model permanently. Since October 2020, the social media giant’s entire workforce has had the flexibility to work wherever they want—whether that’s at the office, from home or a blend of the two
In February 2021, Revolut announced its plans to move its 2000 employees to a permanent remote working model. “Once countries start to lift travel restrictions or slowly move away from lockdowns, after over a year behind closed doors, we believe this new policy will be a huge success”, says Jim MacDougall, the company’s VP of People. “Our employees asked for flexibility, and that’s what we’re giving them as part of our ongoing focus on employee experience and choice”.
And in a bid to promote even more flexibility, Revolut is allowing employees to work abroad for up to 60-days per year. Of course, this will be dependent on travel restrictions and guidance from national health authorities—but for Revolut, the future is looking flexible, hybrid and sunny.
Salesforce employees can continue working from home until December 31, 2021. As soon as it hits 2022, most employees will be required to work in the office between 1-3 days per week. “The nine-to-five workday is dead, and the employee experience is more than ping-pong tables and snacks”, says Brent Hyder, the company’s Chief People Officer.
However, a small subset of employees will continue working remotely if their job role allows for it.
Spotify is also adapting its working practices in light of the pandemic and in-depth employee feedback. They plan to do this by implementing a new framework that they hope will give employees the “perfect balance of flexibility, employment security and job fulfilment”.
“This is an opportunity to scrap the idea that big cities are the only places where meaningful work can happen because we know firsthand that isn’t true”, Travis Robinson, Spotify’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, told Insider.
Across the pond, Starbucks planned to end its work-from-policy and bring employees back into offices by January 2021. However, it appears the multinational chain of coffee houses has made a u-turn.
Starbucks’ CEO, Kevin Johnson, announced that more than 4,000 office employees would be working from home until 2021—so that they can have time to repurpose their Seattle headquarters to facilitate flexible working.
According to a Starbucks spokesperson, their future headquarters will “maintain that heritage of connection”. And in true hybrid style, the new layout will promote remote-work technologies and enable employees to reserve parking space, so you can “work for the day”, Johnson wrote.
The social media giant has announced that employees can work from home “forever” if they want to. The policy isn’t too surprising, as Twitter has always had remote employees, even before the pandemic. In an article published on their own blog back in May 2020, they stated:
“Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work from home model in the face of COVID-19, but we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices.
“We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralisation and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere. The past few months have proven we can make that work. So 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. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return.”
In April 2021, Uber confirmed they’ll be adopting a hybrid approach. In a blog post, Uber said the move was made after listening to their employees’ feedback, which we at Hubble are strong advocates for.
And in July, Uber is continuing to get it right. After gathering more employee data, Uber confirmed that they’d be giving their employees even more flexibility on their preferred office location—instead of their previous plans to “limit” employees to their pre-pandemic office.
Instead, employees will be able to choose from a list of dedicated team hubs. Uber is also asking their office employees to spend at least 50% of their time there. Previously this was a non-negotiable set at a minimum of 3 days per week, but the flexible alternative now allows employees to choose their schedule.
For example, employees could work in the office for three days one week and two days the next. Alternatively, staff could spend five days in the office and enjoy a full week of remote working after.
Another finance giant opting for a relaxed, hybrid approach is UBS—Switzerland’s biggest bank. At the beginning of July 2021, UPS offered their employees a blend of remote and office work to push for more flexibility.
“We are committed to offering our employees the flexibility for hybrid working where role, tasks and location allow,” UBS said. “Hybrid work options will be introduced on a country-by-country basis, with timing dependent on the local pandemic situation.”
Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, has said: “We anticipate never going back to five days a week in the office”—but added that Unilever was still keen to return to offices in some capacity after seeing a “slow erosion of social capital” as working from home prevents colleagues from meeting in person. As such, Unilever will adopt a hybrid model, with employees alternating between working from home and in the office.
It seems that the floodgates really are now open for new methods of flexible working for the consumer goods giant—as Unilever are also trialling a four-day work week for their New Zealand employees, with a view to rolling it out for their 155,000-strong workforce if the experiment proves successful.
At the beginning of 2021, Wise (formerly TransferWise) announced they’ll be introducing a hybrid model of flexible working. Kate Diver, the company’s Head of People Risk, Workplace and Expansions, outlined the strategy in a blog post, whereby employees can work from anywhere in the world for 90 days per year.
Employees can also work from home up to three days per week after a survey found that over 50% of employees stated that the ‘ideal amount’ of time in the office was 2-3 days a week.
In August 2021, Zoom made it very clear that they won’t be rushing their office reopenings—which seems quite fitting considering they’re a video conferencing platform.
Kelly Steckelberg, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, wrote a blog post that they don’t plan to open any offices until they can do so without social distancing measures or personal protective equipment.
In the meantime, they’re preparing a hybrid approach, where they’ll strategically blend remote and in-office work—the latter being just one component of their flexible, future workplace strategy.
Finally, there are the companies who have enjoyed the working from home experiment so much that they feel that remote working is not just a viable long-term policy, but the preferred one—and will be remote by default. To clarify, being “remote-first” doesn’t necessarily mean that employees can’t work from an office, rather that default systems and processes will be geared around a distributed workforce.
Coinbase has made remote working a permanent arrangement for their employees. CEO Brian Armstrong told his employees in May 2020 that whilst the company will continue to offer office space for those who would like it following lockdown, the “future of Coinbase is remote-first” and that their working processes would now have to reflect that.
Deloitte is another accounting firm to allow all of its UK employees to work from home forever. In a bid to embrace flexible working permanently, Chief Executive Richard Houston confirmed that its whopping 20,000 staff would be able to choose when, where and how they work in the future.
This doesn’t come as a surprise—Deloitte has promoted flexible working in its policies since 2014, but less than half of its workforce worked from home regularly before the pandemic. The auditing giant said the pandemic had accelerated its hybrid working model, as 96% of its employees wanted the freedom to choose how they worked in the future—a statistic that you just can’t ignore.
In October 2020, Dropbox announced that they had officially become a “Virtual First” company. This meant that working outside of the office would be “the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work.”
They then planned to allow in-person collaboration and teamwork in their workspaces once it was deemed safe—and in July 2021, they did just that. Dropbox reopened many of its buildings on the 14th, and these spaces will serve many purposes: all-hands team meetings, community-building and collaboration, to name a few.
Employees won’t be able to use them for solo work, which has prompted Alastair Simpson, Dropbox’s VP of design and one of the leaders behind their back-to-work strategy, to call them “studios” instead of “offices”.
Shopify Inc. has announced that it will allow its 5,000 employees to work from home indefinitely, and reduce their office capacity to 20-25%. Tobi Lutke, CEO, told Bloomberg that “they will adopt a “digital by default” mindset and adjust to a remote work environment.”
“We expect that the majority of people will work from home and home offices in the future,” Lutke continued. “The choice is really, are we passengers on this tidal wave of change? Or do we jump in the driver’s seat and try to figure out how to build a global world-class company by not getting together that often.”
In June 2021, Slack announced they’ll be transitioning to a remote-first workforce. But that’s not to say in-person interactions are out of the question. The instant-messaging platform says they’ll have face-to-face meetings—but primarily for team building exercises and project kickoffs.
And since Slack is designed to enable remote communication and collaboration, their back-to-work strategy is nothing but fitting.
Find a workspace solution that fits your business’ needs, whatever they are
Clearly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the future of where we work. Whilst it can be helpful to draw from these examples, it’s important to remember that what works for one company won’t necessarily work for the next.
At Hubble, we’re here to make it easy for each business to find a bespoke, flexible workspace solution that helps their team to thrive:
- Office-first companies can find a full-time office with us, but also offer flexibility to their employees.
- Hybrid companies can find their unique blend of working from the HQ, on-demand workspaces, and home.
- Remote-first companies can ensure that even without a fixed HQ, their team can access the best workspaces in the world whenever they need to—and have an excellent home working experience, too.