Making the office a place people want to go ‘because they enjoy it’

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Good morning.

I was amused yesterday to read about Jamie Dimon’s Zoom fatigue. “I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings,” the JP Morgan CEO told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m done with it.” 

He may be. But I’ll bet many of his employees feel differently. A post-pandemic battle for talent is underway, and that has put power in the hands of the talented. As McKinsey’s Bill Schaninger told CEOs meeting virtually at Fortune’s Leadership Roundtables yesterday, “now that you have let the genie out of the bottle, all sorts of things are going to come into question…This has been a real opportunity for people to question their own purpose, and whether what they are doing is what they want to do.” 

Some excerpts from the conversation:

“We have to make the office a place that people want to go to because it is enjoyable to go to. Not where people actually do their work, but where they go because they enjoy it.”
—Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Group

“We talk a lot now about flexibility policies. I would argue we need flexibility policies that flex. Not just allow people to work from home, but also being flexible about when people work. Workers have earned the right to do work differently.”
—Kristin Peck, CEO, Zoetis

“The responsibility that was shown by all colleagues and workers during the pandemic…they earned, in a way, the right to decide where they want to work and how.”
—Francesco Starace, CEO, Enel Group

The assembled CEOs also talked about how the pandemic has accelerated their plans to use new technologies to rethink the fundamentals of their businesses:

“The interesting thing about the transformation for us was at the beginning everyone was looking to do the digital equivalent of what they were doing before. It is only now that people are asking, ‘What can we do differently?’” 
—Barbara Humpton, CEO Siemens U.S.A.

“Digital first is not enough. Having a customer experience that is digital is not enough. It’s not just customer experience. It’s: ‘How do we reimagine how work gets done?’”
—Clara Shih, CEO, Service Cloud, Salesforce

And then there was a very spirited exchange on how the pandemic is forcing companies to make major changes in their supply chains:

“In the beginning, our sales plummeted 40%. And then in May and June, they were up 40%.  We don’t have a supply chain to support that kind of volatility…The supply chain needs to be closer to home.”
—Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

“We had to shift gears very quickly. Demand was 400% of normal in some products….’Just-in-time’ is becoming a secondary or tertiary concern to having product available and containing the impact of natural disaster. A lot of change has happened, and there is much more to come. What happened in the Suez Canal was just the tip of the iceberg.”
—Joe Almeida, CEO Baxter International

The conversations were part of the lead up to this year’s Fortune Global Forum, which is being held virtually June 8 and 9. If you are interested in getting a jump on where the business world is heading, apply here.

More news below.

Alan Murray

Correction, May 6, 2021: A previous version of this newsletter essay misspelled the first name of the Salesforce Service Cloud CEO.


Waiver support

The U.S. has done a major U-turn on the issue of COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights. It now supports waiving some patent rights in order to boost production and distribution of vaccines around the world—a move experts say is essential for warding off mutations and ultimately ending the pandemic. The vaccine producers' stock prices have taken a big hit as a result. Now the EU is the big remaining blocker to a global waiver agreement. Reuters

Trump's account

Facebook's still-wet-behind-the-ears Oversight Board has made its first big decision, regarding former President Donald Trump. The supposedly independent board (which exists at Facebook's mercy) upheld Facebook's January decision to suspend Trump's account over its encouragement and legitimization of violence, but said the ban should not be permanent. Meanwhile, good news for Trump fans: he has a blog now. Fortune

Brexit guns

Brexit is going extremely well, as evidenced by the U.K. sending actual gunboats to "observe" a flotilla of French fishing vessels that gathered in port of Jersey (the biggest Channel Island, and a British dependency) to protest their now-diminished fishing rights in shared waters. A French minister previously raised the idea of cutting off Jersey's power. The British show of force comes on the day of local elections in the U.K. Guardian

Peloton recall

Peloton's share price closed down 15% yesterday after the company relented to regulatory pressure and recalled its Tread+ and Tread machines. It's two weeks since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urged people with kids to stop using the treadmills, following one death. Peloton responded haughtily to that warning, claiming it was "inaccurate and misleading", but now it's apologized. Fortune


Microsoft EU

Microsoft already allowed businesses and public-sector customers in the EU to store all their data there, but now it's also making it possible for them to do all their Azure cloud processing within the bloc, too. The company says the measures go above and beyond the EU's already-strict data protection requirements. Microsoft

Israeli politics

Benjamin Netanyahu may find himself out of a job shortly, after President Reuven Rivlin asked centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid to try forming a government. Netanyahu, Israel's longest-running prime minister, failed to pull together a parliamentary majority after four weeks of trying. Now Lapid just has to pull together parties that hate Bibi but come from all over the political spectrum. If he fails…fifth election since spring 2019, anyone? Washington Post

Broadway return

Tickets go on sale today for Broadway's big return, currently scheduled for Sept. 14. Social distancing apparently won't feature, but theaters may be able to block entry to the unvaccinated. (Bonus read: The reopening of Paris's bars and restaurants.) CBS Local

Lab-grown chicken

Future Meat, an Israeli startup backed by the likes of Tyson Foods, says it has halved its lab-grown-chicken production costs and expects to get U.S. regulatory approval next year. CEO Rom Kshuk: "We will launch a product in the U.S. market in the next 18 months that will have a commercially viable price." Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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