Employees want to go back to the office

Parents work from home with their two children due to the coronavirus outbreak in Paris in 2020.

Xavier Laine | Getty Images News | fake images

People have changed their minds about working from home since the coronavirus caused office closures last year, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said Tuesday during a earnings call with analysts. At first, people liked their new distributed arrangements, but now some people are yearning to get back to work, he said.

Cisco, whose network switches, phones, and Wi-Fi access points are installed at corporate sites, is among the companies that can benefit from a widespread return to the office. The state of the pandemic continues to change, and Robbins’ words communicate the uncertainty about the aftermath and how that will affect business.

“I think we go into that phase where people really fight mentally, people don’t enjoy it,” Robbins said.

Just as Robbins regularly talks to customers, he also communicates with Cisco’s own workers. In the call, he brought up information he had recently received to make his point.

“One of our employees told me the other day, ‘I don’t mind the option of working from home. I don’t like being forced to work from home,'” he said.

Cisco workers have other pressures to deal with. In August, after reporting three-quarters of the decline in revenue brought on by business challenges, Cisco, once the world’s most valuable company, announced a cost-cutting program that included offering voluntary early retirements. Cisco employees can work from home until June 30, a spokesperson said.

Robbins has his own idea about the role of the office beyond Cisco.

“I really think it will be a hybrid where people will work from home and everyone will land here, where they will work from home three days a week and work from the office two days a week and vice versa,” he said. “The question is what accommodations are leading customers to based on employee concerns about space issues, concerns about future pandemics or other concerns. That’s what we don’t know yet.”

Tech companies promise more and more flexibility in remote working when the pandemic ends. On Tuesday, Salesforce announced that most of its employees would work “flexible” hours with one to three days in the office per week, while Twitter and Dropbox told employees they can work from home permanently.

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