US Corporates Giving Second Thought on Work From Home Trend

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When the coronavirus pandemic began, companies asked their workers to work remotely but as the work-from-home experiment stretches on, its negative effects have now started to emerge.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the complications of long term remote working have made US companies rethink their decision.

Owing to the trend, hiring and integrating new employees have become more complicated.

Some employers said their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren't developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.

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An increasing number of executives say that remote work is not their preferred long term solution once the coronavirus crises pass.

"There's sort of an emerging sense behind the scenes of executives saying, 'This is not going to be sustainable,'" said Laszlo Bock, chief executive of human-resources startup Humu and the former HR chief at Google.

"It was people being terrified of losing their jobs, and that fear-driven productivity is not sustainable," Bock said.

For some companies, work from homes by employees make it difficult to meet deadlines.

In San Francisco, startup Chef Robotics recently missed a key product deadline by a month, hampered by the challenges of integrating and testing software and hardware with its engineers scattered across the Bay Area. Pre-pandemic, they all collaborated in one space.

Problems that took an hour to solve in the office stretched out for a day when workers were remote, said Chief Executive Rajat Bhageria. "That's just a logistical nightmare," he said.

Teams physically building a product need to be together, Bhageria said. "There's this thrill of being a little hacky group of people, on a shared mission, in a start-up, with little money, eating pizza and ramen."

Many executives believe that a benefit of working together in person is the potential for spontaneous interactions.

Mary Bilbrey, global chief human resources officer at real-estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., returned to her Chicago office in early June, as the company reopened its spaces.

She noticed that she was soon having conversations with peers that wouldn't have happened in a remote set up--a discussion sparked by a passing question in the hall, for instance. "They weren't going to think about scheduling a 30 minute call to do it," she said.

The Wall Street Journal said that the toll of extended work-from-home arrangements is likely to affect career development, particularly for younger workers.

At Stifel Financial Corp, which employs more than 8,000 people around the world, junior employees learn how to underwrite deals or develop pitch books by sitting beside more experienced colleagues and watching them work, said Chief Executive Ronald J. Kruszewski. That's hard to do remotely.

"I am concerned that we would somehow believe that we can basically take kids from college, put them in front of Zoom, and think that three years from now, they'll be every bit as productive as they would have had they had the personal interaction," said Kruszewski.

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