Most Billionaires Don’t Think Employees Will Stay Entirely Remote, Forbes Survey Shows

Elon Musk struck a chord last week when he said he would require all Tesla employees to return to the office for at least 40 hours a week, or leave the company. The tough stance of the world’s richest person has sparked a storm of backlash, including from Australian billionaire Scott Farquhar, co-founder and CEO of software giant Atlassian, who called Musk’s tenure “something out of the ordinary.” 1950s”.

The whole public debate has revealed a wide divergence in how business leaders view the future of work. Some billionaire-run companies like Dropbox, run by Drew Houston, have sold off much of their office space and given employees the option to work remotely forever; Twitter, which Musk is trying to buy, announced in March that its employees would have the same choice. Others follow a hybrid model, including Apple, which is led by Tim Cook and currently requires its employees to report to the office twice a week.

It turns out that most billionaires believe that businesses either go back to everything in-person or stay hybrid, with at least some in-person time. We surveyed 65 of the world’s wealthiest people and found that just over half (52%) think “hybrid” models that allow employees to combine in-person and remote work will be the way to go. the future, compared to 45% who think most employees will return. physically in the office. Only 3% say work will end up being mostly remote.

One of the leading proponents of hybrid working, Mark Dixon, the billionaire founder and CEO of Swiss-based flexible workplace provider IWG, describes the pandemic as a revolutionary moment in the “world of work”, akin to the advent of the desktop computer.

” While he [was] being only a temporary phenomenon, its effects on the way millions of people work will be with us for good,” Dixon said. “The reasons are easy to find: forces such as the growing demand for work-life balance, the growing need to attract top talent, the increasing emphasis companies place on people-centric policies, rising costs of downtown space and, perhaps most importantly, the climate imperative, are all persuading employees and employers that it’s time for change.

David Hoffman, who started his executive search firm DHR in 1989 and is now also the largest real estate developer in Naples, Florida, said he was already seeing the benefits of the shift to flexible working. The billionaire said Forbes DHR has reduced its office space by around 80% in cities like New York and Chicago, adding “millions” to the company’s bottom line. “We also found that our productivity increased by twenty percent and our turnover decreased significantly,” Hoffman noted.

Yet many billionaires argue for a return to the status quo. Jim Thompson, the Hong Kong-based billionaire behind Crown Worldwide, one of the world’s largest private relocation companies, said while the pandemic has accelerated the ‘usefulness’ of remote working, he never sees it replacing face-to-face properly. -face “.

“I’ve come to see that certain roles in a business can be done remotely and that has positive effects for families who have a long commute or children to raise, but the downside of having a large part company employees working individually isn’t the case. That bodes well for management wanting to build a strong team,” Thompson said. “I believe the role of the office or other location hard work is always essential to the success of a business.”

And then there are those like Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire owner of Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of restaurant giant Landry’s and the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who don’t have the same choice. serving guests and creating memorable experiences. It is impossible to do this without being present in our restaurants, casinos, hotels and entertainment complexes,” said Fertitta.

The broader move away from in-person work has crucial implications for companies like Fertitta Entertainment, which may have a harder time finding people willing to do physical work. “Our sites are already understaffed,” said the Texas-based billionaire. “Customers tell us every day how much they enjoy the social interaction and dining experience again. Hospitality, travel and leisure are all back; and now is the time for employees to join also.

Experts interviewed by Forbes predict that it will become increasingly difficult for companies that fail to adapt to a hybrid model to retain top talent, at least in careers where remote working is an option. “Now that people have a taste of what it’s like to have more freedom over where they work, it’s going to be very difficult to convince them to come back,” said Thomas Malone, professor of management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Raj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School who has spent years studying remote work, says working primarily remotely with a few mandatory in-person meetings will be the main model moving forward. However, he thinks the definition of “hybrid” work will likely take on new meaning as companies experiment with different options for in-person collaboration.

“What I observe and what my own research points out is that the vast majority of companies are looking at some form of hybrid, but the reality is that there is a lot of experimentation going on about what hybrid means. said Choudhury, pointing to billionaire Marc Benioff’s Salesforce “ranch” opened earlier this year in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, Calif., as a gathering place for his employees as an example. Anyway, the writing is on the wall. He says: “The old office with cubicles and corner desks is completely out of place in today’s world.”

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