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Over a dozen Fortune 500 executives share how they’re developing return-to-office strategies: ‘This is the next normal, not the new normal’ 

December 7, 2022, 1:00 PM UTC
Fortune @ Work Illustration

Good morning!

Fortune launched its inaugural Fortune @ Work: Return to Office Playbook yesterday. The playbook is a comprehensive package offering exclusive insights about how Fortune 500 HR leaders—and talent heads from prominent startups—are developing return-to-office strategies that support business needs and drive innovation. From Google and Amazon to Chevron and Kroger, Fortune’s writers explored how companies are rethinking the function of the office and the future of work more broadly. 

So why now? Solving for the way your company works remains paramount in recruiting and retaining employees, even as we enter 2023. And it goes far beyond deciding between in-office, in-person, or hybrid work. How will you make in-person interactions meaningful? What mental health support will you provide to employees now working in isolation? How will you combat proximity bias? Do you need to invest in new office technology? What’s more, the talent market still demands flexibility and choice. Employees remain split on where they wish to work, and a whopping 63% of job seekers say an employer’s openness to remote work is a top factor in their decision to accept a job offer, according to a recent study by recruiting software company iCIMS.

Fortune’s return-to-office playbook is a reflection of this nuanced reality. Expect to learn from leaders who have doubled down on fully in-office, hybrid, or entirely remote work models and find out about the triumphs, struggles, and failures they experienced along the way. Dig into a side-by-side comparison of how ten people executives pressure tested and shaped their return-to-office plans. And look to the future as we break down how the most successful companies will leverage the office of the future. It’s a must-read, all-access pass into the minds of some of the most preeminent experts in the talent space. 

Lastly, we can’t talk about the future workplace without discussing the metaverse’s role in return-to-office strategies. A deep look at Meta, Microsoft, and Accenture’s adoption of the metaverse considers whether the bets and investments companies make will be an apt substitution for in-person work. (Hint: Keep your expectations low at this point.)

I believe Ola Snow, CHRO at Cardinal Health, described the ever-morphing work of the future best in her interview with Fortune: “I like to say this is the next normal, not the new normal.”

Read the full Fortune @ Work: RTO Playbook here.

Amber Burton

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

“The successful organizations will figure out that if the performance metrics are there, they shouldn’t care if employees are doing their work in downward facing dog.” —Stephan Meier, professor and chair of the management division at Columbia Business School

Around the Table

A round up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- After tens of thousands of tech layoffs, college students looking to enter the industry find themselves with limited career options. New York Times

- In a sign the talent crunch is truly global, Tesla still has about 5,000 open jobs at its Berlin gigafactory. Wired

- Remote work has left offices empty, decimated downtowns, and wiped out an estimated $453 billion in real estate value. Insider 


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Going remote. Dropbox let employees work remotely and saw record high turnover. Then it offered in-person retreats. Retention soared. —Paolo Confino 

Bring them back. A Harry Potter–themed dining hall, on-site dry cleaning, and a tree-house meeting room: Meet the quirky health care tech company calling 11,000 employees back to the office full-time. —Paige McGlauflin

The middle ground. Movable walls, motion-activated sensors, and QR codes: Inside Indeed’s sprawling hybrid office redesign. —Amber Burton

Looking ahead. The office of the future will be intentional about in-person work, cater to employees, and be driven by performance metrics. —Ruth Umoh

Virtual reality. Meta, Microsoft, and Accenture are pouring millions into the metaverse workplace. Here’s what employers should know before creating their CEO’s avatar. —Lila McClellan 

RTO roundtable. From high-tech offices to boosted benefits: How HR executives at Amazon, Google, and 8 other Fortune 500 companies are developing return-to-office strategies. —Amber Burton

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.