Workers at Starbucks’ corporate office in Seattle, Washington, will be required to work in-office at least three days per week, if within commuting distance, a memo from CEO Howard Schultz describes.
Starbucks is one of several large corporations putting their foot down about employees working from home over COVID-19 safety protocols, joining Disney, which announced in early January 2023 that employees need to go to work four days per week.
Apple recently instituted a three in-office days per-week policy, and Snapchat’s parent company is requiring 80% of employee work to be done in-office, according to CNN.
Any employee who lives “within commuting distance” of the Starbucks Support Center will have to start heading to the corporate office three times per week, including Tuesday and Wednesday, starting Jan. 30, 2023.
The memo stressed that the company’s culture of togetherness and in-person connection was damaged greatly by lockdowns, both at its headquarters and its stores.
“We have lost a true human connection at the SSC. We need to rebuild that. Failing to do so as we emerge from the pandemic puts us at a great loss,” the CEO said.
Schultz says that the company members made a promise to return to the office but haven’t, and as such, others have not been treated fairly.
“Partners in our offices have had the privilege of not coming into the workplace … each of us made a promise to each other to be in the office between one to two days a week,” the leader of the coffee giant remarked.
“From our badging data, it’s clear that a good number of SSC partners are not meeting their minimum promise of one day a week,” he explained.
The main reason for the forced return, Schultz says, is a lack of speed and prioritization in operations.
“We are having a hard time operationalizing decisions quickly and thoughtfully,” he said, describing the work-from-home atmosphere as working in “silos.”
Executive Vice President and Chief Partner Officer Sara Kelly gave a speech at the headquarters stressing a “cultural bubble” that the company has lost. Kelly described a set of “rituals” that are unique to the company, such as coffee-tasting, story-telling and simply bumping into friends in between meetings.
Despite the issues, Starbucks stock rose over 5% in the first two weeks of 2023.
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