BLUF

Mixed messaging around remote work has left some commentators questioning whether tech companies are really invested in their own future.

Summary

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers have been required to work from home (WFH). Therefore many, tech companies have a vested financial interest in providing the technology to allow people to WFH. So it seems a little confusing that Microsoft—one of the companies that stand to benefit the most—recently came out with some fairly stark warnings about the pitfalls of WFH, following a study of its own US workforce. The company concluded that:
  • Communication became less meaningful, and workers spent less time talking to and working with colleagues across different parts of the business.
  • Remote working could be harmful to productivity and innovation.
  • Emails, instant messaging and other forms of communication used in face-to-face interaction made it more difficult for workers to share their ideas and acquire new information.
Google is another example of a tech company that doesn't seem sure where it stands on WFH. Google Workspace has been promoting cloud collaboration as the future of work and telling its staff they can WFH forever—if they so choose. However, at the same time, Google is proposing disincentives for doing so—namely, pay cuts. Tech companies have a huge stake in the success of WFH yet appear somewhat cool on the notion that WFH is sustainable in the long term, especially for their own people.