The study (PDF), published this month by University of Chicago and University of Michigan researchers and reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, says:

In this paper, we provide causal evidence that RTO mandates at three large tech companies—Microsoft, SpaceX, and Apple—had a negative effect on the tenure and seniority of their respective workforce. In particular, we find the strongest negative effects at the top of the respective distributions, implying a more pronounced exodus of relatively senior personnel.

Dell, Amazon, Google, Meta, and JPMorgan Chase have tracked employee badge swipes to ensure employees are coming into the office as often as expected. Dell also started tracking VPN usage this week and has told workers who work remotely full time that they can’t get a promotion.

Some company leaders are adamant that remote work can disrupt a company’s ability to innovate. However, there’s research suggesting that RTO mandates aren’t beneficial to companies. A survey of 18,000 Americans released in March pointed to flexible work schedules helping mental health. And an analysis of 457 S&P 500 companies in February found RTO policies hurt employee morale and don’t increase company value.

  • @Suavevillain
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    6 days ago

    I don’t blame anyone. It doesn’t work for me. I have my own space and can be productive at home. I don’t need to be at the office getting coughed on or dealing with air temps.

  • @[email protected]
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    86 days ago

    Maybe companies should listen to muh free market instead of realtors wanting to keep downtowns on life support

  • @msbeta1421
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    106 days ago

    Everyone suffers. Now that work has ramped back up post pandemic, it is very apparent how our talent pools have been impacted.

    It’s the worst kind of problem: hard to fix and slow to show fairly significant consequences.

  • Snot Flickerman
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    7 days ago

    The C-Suite at this news: “This was a triumph! I’m making a note here: “Huge success!” It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction!”


    This is exactly what they wanted to happen. Stealth layoff without having to give your most senior employees things like severance or unemployment. Senior employees cost more, and any way to get them all to flee without having to pay out for it is viewed as a big win.

    They knew their best would fly the coop. They didn’t fucking care, that was the plan. Honestly, this shit should have been class action lawsuits under “Constructive Dismissal.”

    • @Aceticon
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      6 days ago

      Senior professionals in high demand area are very hard to find and hire - when I worked as a freelance very senior software designer-developer some years ago were I was paid big bucks for it, in most of my contracts they had ended up hiring an expensive freelancer like me because the company simply could not find anybody with that level of seniority willing to either become a permanent employee or move jobs (it’s funny ´cause they almost invariably though it was temporary and they would find somebody and then generally I ended up working 2 years or so for them and eventually I would choose to leave because I was getting bored).

      These people are also older and have families, not naive young men that will work crazy hours and take any shit.

      This is IT, not some kind of early 20th century industry filled with employees for life who have “seniority” because merelly of how long they’ve working in the same company: they’re senior in the sence of their domain expertise being very advanced, not in the sense of being old (though such expertise usually requires one to be older because it takes time to accumulate, being older does not guarantee such expertise and always working for the same company actually makes it harder to keep on evolving as a domain expert into the most senior levels because all you know is one way of doing things)

      So it makes a lot more sense to me that the executives in these companies which have a tradition of over-exploiting bright young naive techies, didn’t account for their most experienced staff (who are not only are past the age and insecurity about their skills that they will simply lie down and take shit but can also much more easilly find a job somewhere else than the less experienced ones) not just taking it and getting used to it and instead endind up prompted by these RTO policies to start looking for something else and eventually leave because, I repeat, it’s much more easy for them to find a place to leave to.

      • @jj4211
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        26 days ago

        There’s an assumption that these companies actually value competency.

        For many companies, once they established the brand value, competency becomes an expensive superfluous thing. From that point forward it’s about high margin while churning so the customers don’t immediately catch on that the good folks are gone. Especially once they’ve converted a critical mass of customers to renting their product, then the money keeps rolling in and the product can pretty much plateau.

        In companies serving businesses, it can take a long long while before the right people at the customers catch on enough to care. When the product sucks for the users and they gripe to leadership, well a few rounds of golf with the vendor and that can is kicked down the line. The employees need to suck it up because this is the premier solution in the industry…

        • @Aceticon
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          They value the job getting done efficiently with the minimum amount of confusion and risk, which is what good senior types will do and enable others to do (when doing something big or new, a team with only more junior types will fall into every pitfall and end up in every programming dead-end imaginable, but much less so if there’s a senior person around, mainly because such people already went through similar things and often recognize certain kinds of potential problems before they’re actual problems)

          That said, plenty of managers in plenty of companies often don’t know what they have until they lose it, and I expect B2C companies and larger B2B - which as you point out are mainly Brand driven - are less likely to value predictable delivery which is much closer to what’s actually needed on the first release than smaller B2B, consultancies or in-house development were it’s a lot harder to shove inadequate shit out and then convince the paying customers or the business side (if doing in-house development) that’s what they want.

          Certainly that’s my own experience.

          IMHO, as long as the senior types in these companies aren’t fixated in staying in B2C, they’ll have no problem finding new jobs and may even enjoy it more, so as I wrote in the previous post, it’s easier for them to leave.

    • @[email protected]
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      717 days ago

      Yup.

      Sure, the long term productivity and quality takes a nosedive, but the shareholders don’t care about that as long as the numbers for the next quarter look better.

      • Snot Flickerman
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        7 days ago

        What’s worse is they’ll make young upstarts feel like “heroes” for figuring out a problem that wasn’t a problem until they lost all that senior staff.

        Never realizing it wouldn’t have been a problem to solve if they company hadn’t purposefully shitcanned all that institutional knowledge and that they’re being way underpaid for solving the issue.

        Then this same cycle will happen to them too, when they’re too old to change careers easily.

    • Encrypt-Keeper
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      7 days ago

      I’m not sure if this was actually some kind of sinister plot, rather than incompetence and ego. You’re not the first to suggest that this is a way to lay people off without “having to pay severance”, but what really throws a wrench into that idea is that in most states they didn’t “have” to pay severance in the first place. That’s really more reliant on the employment offer or contract. There really wasn’t anything stopping these companies from just laying people off the normal way. The only other justification I’ve seen is that it’s a way to “avoid bad press”. But clearly it doesn’t because we all still know this is happening and we’re all still just as unhappy about it. If anything, it’s better for a company to just lay people off and spin it as a “cost saving measure” to appease shareholders, than make it look like top talent is leaving of their own volition. The latter makes the company look bad to both the general population and its shareholders.

      • Snot Flickerman
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        7 days ago

        …and you don’t usually get into senior positions without stuff like severance being in the employment offer or contract.

        The latter makes the company look bad to both the general population and its shareholders.

        Tesla is a car company that is valued way more than any other car company despite the fact that it makes a fraction of the number of cars and has horrendous build quality.

        You think the market is fucking rational, here? I’ve got news for you, guy, regular people’s view of this means fuck-all to these people and the only thing that matters to them is the stock price.

        The market absolutely props up “irrational decisions” and cutting employees to cut costs has been a bellwether for increasing stock price for forty fucking years now.

        • Encrypt-Keeper
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          7 days ago

          You think the market is fucking rational, here? I’ve got news for you, guy, regular people’s view of this means fuck-all to these people and the only thing that matters to them is the stock price.

          The market absolutely props up “irrational decisions” and cutting employees to cut costs has been a bellwether for increasing stock price for forty fucking years now.

          That’s my exact point. I don’t think this is some conspiracy to secretly lay off people. I think this is just a more straightforward case of C-levels blundering around with decisions that make sense only to them.

          I think they absolutely thought RTO would be a benefit in some way, and after being proven wrong they just save face with corporate buzzwords.

          • Snot Flickerman
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            7 days ago

            I don’t disagree that the C-suite often makes boneheaded decisions not based in rationality or evidence, but…

            Constructive dismissal and finding new, unique, and legally convoluted ways to get rid of people without having to pay as much to get rid of them has been something these companies have spent literally billions on studying over 60 years. I’m old enough to remember when they re-named it “Downsizing.”

            There’s a reason they all turn to McKinsey. This is literally one of the few things where they follow the data.

            I would be more receptive to this idea if getting rid of senior staff to cut costs hadn’t been the name of the game for six decades or more by now. I feel like this is one issue you can bank on with major companies, they love it when senior employees leave of their own volition.

      • @[email protected]
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        -247 days ago

        in most states they didn’t “have” to pay severance in the first place. That’s really more reliant on the employment offer or contract

        99% of the world lives outside America.

        Deep breaths. You’ll be fine, but it may be a bit traumatic to learn.

        • Encrypt-Keeper
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          7 days ago

          100% of the companies this article is about are American companies. The top talent the article describes live in the United States.

          0% of the countries that aren’t America are relevant to this article, my comment, and this thread. Including yours.

    • @[email protected]
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      7 days ago

      We do what we must because we can.

      For the good of all of us.

      Except the ones who are dead.

    • @spongebue
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      87 days ago

      Honestly, this shit should have been class action lawsuits under “Constructive Dismissal.”

      Constructive dismissal is not illegal or anything. All it means is that “yeah, you didn’t officially get dismissed but with the other things they did you may as well have been. Here’s your $200 unemployment check for the month”

    • @[email protected]
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      -27 days ago

      I hoped people would learn from the bust after Y2K.

      Companies were turfing staff, and often their seniors. Mentorships and peer oversight crashed in quality. The new mentors came from the ranks who had no mentoring themselves, and missed out on fundamentals, and passed their lack onward.

      And that’s how we got systemd.

  • @[email protected]
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    1047 days ago

    One of the funniest things about most of these companies enforcing RTO is that their “on-site interviews” are still virtual. So you believe being in-person is more effective except when it comes to paying for travel expenses for interviewees.

    Just shows the massive hypocrisy behind these RTO mandates.

    • capital
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      77 days ago

      You see how that’s more convenient for the interviewee too, right?

      • @Prok
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        26 days ago

        Especially when you’ll need to move to be in the office, a trip for the interview includes an extra day or two to see if you’d enjoy living in the area where the office is. .

      • @BilboBargains
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        -36 days ago

        I would imagine most of these remote interviews are just an initial conversation and an employer would insist on a formal interview in person if they have a policy on physical presence. My policy is to advance the requirement that there be hot chicks in the office if I need to be in that space.

  • @EndOfLine
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    787 days ago

    A survey of 18,000 Americans released in March pointed to flexible work schedules helping mental health.

    It’s almost like the work force actually values the quality of their lives more than … umm, honestly I’ve never been able to figure out a positive side for companies pushing RTO. Report after report show remote work improves productivity, employee retention, is perceived as a significant perk to attract new talent, and reduces corporate overhead (that last one is just an assumption on my part).

    Seriously, what is the attraction for RTO?

    • @PseudorandomNoise
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      427 days ago

      It’s bosses who are sick of Teams meetings. “You just can’t collaborate like you can in an office setting” is what I heard most during my job hunt.

      • bluGill
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        327 days ago

        Which is true only in the rare case you only have one office that everyone is in. As soom as you don’t have everyone in the same room teams is better. So once you have more than 50 people

      • mynachmadarch
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        187 days ago

        You absolutely can’t. You just can’t. Standing around the empty coffee pot yakking about the sportsball game over the weekend for 45 minutes and then spending three minutes agreeing you need a meeting to coordinate brainstorming just doesn’t work over Teams.

        They just refuse to admit that’s a good thing.

        • @SlopppyEngineer
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          247 days ago

          Office politics with plausible deniability is also so much harder to do when leaving behind an electronic trail.

        • Optional
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          87 days ago

          Ohh man - that sportsball game was nuts amirite

            • @MajinBlayze
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              16 days ago

              It’s been a wild season, I’m sure

            • Optional
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              37 days ago

              I know, I know, did they ever resolve that half-remembered news item about them from some time relatively recently?

          • mynachmadarch
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            7 days ago

            I dunno. I got a dumpster and forced three families to finally clean their houses some. And only sportsball I watch is Calvinball but we’re in the off season sadly.

            (Am I doing this right? I always avoid the coffee pot because it was garbage coffee so missed all the collaborative talk)

    • k_rol
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      287 days ago

      Probably the satisfaction to micro manage people and oversee their work over their shoulders.

    • @[email protected]
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      167 days ago

      They get to use all that cheap real estate they bought during the pandemic. What more reasoning could you ever need!

      • mynachmadarch
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        57 days ago

        A lot of them around me don’t even own, just rent. They’d save money by just not having to keep that infrastructure up and running at max and getting out of their contract when it ends.

    • Snot Flickerman
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      7 days ago

      It was the whole getting rid of senior employees without having to pay severance or unemployment thing.

      It was never about “returning to office.” It was always about making the most well paid and senior employees walk so they could save money.

      • @[email protected]
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        107 days ago

        It can be either. My state job had a RTO period where a bunch of people quit so they umplemented it again. RTO wasn’t intended to reduce senior positions because seniority isn’t a significant cost. Top leadership just didn’t believe people cab work remotely and was worried about the impression that it would give if people in the agency worked from home.

        All of the other state agencies have permanently embraced remote work. Our RTO was absolutely about control and forcing people to be in the office so top leadership could see them instead of empty cubes.

  • @[email protected]
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    467 days ago

    Daily commute and sleep deprivation that derives from it is mind numbing. The only reason leaders want people to work at the office is so they don’t pay for empty offices.

    Want people to innovate ? Give them free time to do research on a subject your company could benefit from.

    Want people to meet with their teams ? Organize team activities once in a while. Everyone will benefit and be happier for it.

    • JustEnoughDucks
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      They don’t want people to innovate. Innovation is a buzzword that they use to market themselves as something other than parasites.

      Most companies want to safely follow market trends to suck away large profit margin with minimal payout to workers. If they make a product that doesn’t work, they just assert that it does and that the customer is wrong.

      That’s also why they intentionally quiet fire seniors like in the article. They don’t give a fuck about quality or innovation. They want the cheapest labor possible while hiking service/product pricing.

      They don’t want employees to be happy. They want them to be cheap and exploitable.

      That is literally the base form of businesses in the flawed reality of capitalism.

  • downpunxx
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    147 days ago

    senior talent are the one’s making the most money, and costing the corporations the most year over year, the fact they’ve left willingly frees the corporation up from offering severance and unemployment benefits

    • @[email protected]
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      247 days ago

      Senior talent also tends to save the company money by avoiding the mistakes of less experienced people, but C level positions don’t tend to recognize that because they don’t see problems that were avoided or mitigated.

      • @Windex007
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        67 days ago

        Compliance fines come out of a different budget so who cares

      • applepie
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        67 days ago

        they don’t get rewarded for problems avoided. they get paid for “fixing shit”

        • @[email protected]
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          37 days ago

          Yes, that is what I am saying. It is also rewarding the part of their job that is less important than avoiding the need to fix shit.

  • @kinther
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    147 days ago

    My company does badge swipe checking, checks whether you connect to the corporate wifi with your laptop, and monitors you with motion sensing / heat tracking software fron the moment you walk in the door. 3 days a week mandatory

    • circuscritic
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      7 days ago

      Learn what? This was the intended outcome: layoffs without severance or unemployment.*

      *Unemployment benefits aren’t totally off the table due to the companies changing of job requirements, but that’s going to depend on local laws and individual employee circumstances.

      • ⓝⓞ🅞🅝🅔
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        My hope is that companies would learn from the brain drain side effects in the long run. You’re absolutely right that greater profit is what drives this and it was intentional, but it is short-sighted.

        The company I work for just terminated a substantial percentage of its workforce. It was done without truly understanding the effect on many programs. I’m now standing on a desert island, alone, trying to figure out how to continue satisfying a customer with nearly all the knowledge and talent to best do that stripped away. Doing the job of three people was hard enough before. Now I’m doing the job of X people, a variable I can’t even adequately quantify now. And a lot of that work is so wildly outside of my sphere of knowledge.

        Decisions that these large companies are making are causing side effects that they may not feel for many years, but they will… And it won’t matter because those executives have accomplished everything they wanted for themselves in those first moments.

        Don’t be evil. Heh.

        I really do hope a few of these companies learn. I’d love for people to not be treated as expendable assets that can be ground into dust, but as people to nourish and develop. I’d love to cheer for them. I’d love to contribute to their work.

        • circuscritic
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          7 days ago

          Short sighted for who? Executive compensation is tied to stock performance via options. If their actions boost the stock price in the short term, what do they care about the companies performance at a future date after they’ve cashed out?

          We’re currently in the extraction phase of our neoliberal economic system’s lifecycle and it’s only downhill from here.

    • @[email protected]
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      127 days ago

      Their stocks go up in the short term and they have golden parachutes so they have learned that running companies into the ground benefits them.

      They do learn, just the wrong lessons.

  • AutoTL;DRB
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    27 days ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    A study analyzing Apple, Microsoft, and SpaceX suggests that return to office (RTO) mandates can lead to a higher rate of employees, especially senior-level ones, leaving the company, often to work at competitors.

    In this paper, we provide causal evidence that RTO mandates at three large tech companies—Microsoft, SpaceX, and Apple—had a negative effect on the tenure and seniority of their respective workforce.

    In particular, we find the strongest negative effects at the top of the respective distributions, implying a more pronounced exodus of relatively senior personnel.

    Apple representative Josh Rosenstock told The Washington Post that the report drew “inaccurate conclusions” and “does not reflect the realities of our business."

    Yet some companies have struggled to make employees who have spent months successfully doing their jobs at home eager to return to the office.

    Dell also started tracking VPN usage this week and has told workers who work remotely full time that they can’t get a promotion.


    The original article contains 705 words, the summary contains 157 words. Saved 78%. I’m a bot and I’m open source!

  • @werefreeatlast
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    -217 days ago

    Can’t drive a bus or make a burger remotely. You can fly a plane remotely but you probably don’t really want to do that if it has passengers in it. Can’t clean remotely but you can definitely do paper pushing remotely, design work, meetings, management etc remotely. The key is landing the right job that can be done remotely.

    • @marx2k
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      87 days ago

      Pretty sure none of the people working those jobs are part of the RTO demo