Oakland, California — It may be back to the office at Credit Karma’s headquarters in Oakland, California, but it’s not business as usual for senior manager Lupe Romo, who is working on his pool game.
“These are partners of mine,” Romo told CBS News. “This is an investment in people. This is an investment in my relationships with this group.”
It’s exactly what Credit Karma CEO and founder Kenneth Lin wants to see after three years of working from home.
“We think there is more energy, there’s more creativity,” Lin said of his staff being back in the office. “People work better together.”
To encourage brainstorming there’s a game room, yoga and a coffee bar — all free.
“Well, it’s by design, right?” Lin said of the long line for the coffee bar. “We actually want interaction.”
While the reviews app Yelp announced this week it was closing its last office in Phoenix — and will now have all its workers go fully remote — companies like Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, are going the opposite direction.
Meta this week announced that it was mandating that all workers return to the office for three days a week starting in September. Across the country, company leaders are making headlines with calls to return to the office.
“I got data that about 30 of you didn’t even open or crack open laptops, and those are all remote employees, including their manager, for a whole month,” James Clarke, CEO of Clearlink told his staff in April in a video obtained by Vice.
A 2020 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 38% of managers either agree or strongly agree that “the performance of remote workers is usually lower than that of people who work in an office setting.” Forty percent of respondents disagreed, and 22% were unsure.
Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks are among the companies now requiring employees to come in three days a week, despite some push back. A February survey by the recruiting firm Robert Half found that 32% of workers who go into the office at least once a week would be willing to take a pay cut to work remotely full-time.
“The job market was on fire,” said Patrick Carroll, CEO and founder of commercial real estate investment firm Carroll. “And so it gave the employee a lot of leverage. Now, that the market is slowing down drastically, I believe that leverage is shifted to the employer.”
Carroll supports a return to the office.
“I think it’s going to take mandates,” Carroll said. “It’s going to take, you know, fear of losing their job.”
Lin takes a different tact on the issue.
“I think people frame it the wrong way when they talk about return to the office as a function of productivity or compensation,” Lin said. “It’s about the culture that you want to work in.”