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CNBC reported over the weekend about how a number of companies are acknowledging that "competitors with more flexible work arrangements may pose a significant risk to their businesses. Amazon, Pinterest, Intel and PayPal all mentioned, for the first time ever, that evolving work environments could impact their ability to attract or retain employees, according to annual filings released in recent days.

"And it shows, more than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, big tech companies are still weighing how and whether to bring employees back to the office and the risks associated with getting everyone back under one roof."

Amazon, for example, has conceded that inflexibility could "negatively impact our ability to hire and retain qualified personnel."

“I don’t think you’re going to have people coming back to the office 100% of the time the way they did before,” says Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

KC's View:

Obviously, retailers are in a different position than many companies - if you have actual stores, you have to have actual employees working in those stores.

Without minimizing the collegiality and collaborative advantages that can come from people working together in the same office - which can be considerable - it also is important, I think, to recognize that remote or hybrid working environments can also give some companies an edge.  By not requiring constant attendance in. a single location, retailers actually can gain access to people with specific levels of expertise who live in other places and who may not want to leave.

People and companies are going to have to find some balance in all this, but I kind of like this new world.

Which leads me to this reporting in today's Wall Street Journal:

"Nearly two years after the pandemic sent many white-collar professionals home, bosses are eager to reconvene employees, hoping that in-person interactions will spark new ideas and help to lessen feelings of isolation and Zoom fatigue as Covid-19 drags on. The challenge is figuring out where and how to gather. Some companies ditched offices in recent months, or loosened policies to allow staffers to move away from company locations.

"That has many executives rethinking the notion of the annual corporate gathering. For years, off-sites were largely a way to get entire companies or teams together to mark milestones such as a sales kickoff, an end-of-year celebration or a product-strategy summit. But as more companies embrace hybrid work models and fully remote teams, increasingly the concept of the off-site—gathering employees periodically—is looking like a way to strengthen company culture and foster connections among colleagues.

"The fear of losing such connections and the benefits that in-person work can bring is spurring companies to look at nontraditional ways to make this happen. In the nascent stages of using off-sites as the new on-site, some companies are considering short gatherings in which staffers meet at hotels, restaurants, Airbnb mansions—or even in the office—collaborating on work while also reconnecting socially. They are feeling out how often to meet: Many executives say it may be enough for remote employees to now come together in person once a month, and quarterly in the future."

I think this could be a reflection of where things are going - encouraging proximity in collaboration when and where it makes sense, but also understanding that the lanes to not have to be as tightly drawn as in the past.

BTW .. I do think that we're seeing the beginning of a resurgence of in-person get-togethers.  I'm getting inquiries to speak at company events that will happen in March and beyond, which I take as a positive sign.  

My bags are packed (my body's vaxxed), I'm ready to go…