[fortune.com – 2023.12.02] Chip manufacturer Broadcom wrote the latest chapter in the long story of return-to-office tensions between bosses and employees.
After completing its $69 billion acquisition of cloud computing company VMWare, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan issued a direct order to his new employees about where they must work. “If you live within 50 miles of an office, you get your butt in here,” he told the workers of previously remote-friendly VMWare.
The comments came during a meeting Tan hosted on Tuesday after the merger between the two companies officially closed, following approval from Chinese regulators. Like many other executives, Tan cited in-person work’s benefits to collaboration and company culture. “Collaboration is important and a key part of sustaining a culture with your peers, with your colleagues,” he said.
There was no word on what employees thought of the mandate specifically, but there had been reports of broader concerns regarding the merger with Broadcom, according to Business Insider. Broadcom has a history of chafing at remote work even during the pandemic, going as far as ordering some employees back to the office as early as April 2020, in defiance of California’s statewide stay-at-home orders.
In recent months, a growing amount of research has pointed to the benefits of in-person work, especially when it comes to on-the-job training and career advancement. Proponents of remote work say it can help close gaps in promotion rates for women, for example. And workers seem to prefer at least partial remote work flexibility to the point that some would even be willing to take a 20% pay cut in order to keep the perk.
Broadcom isn’t alone in its back-to-the-office mandate. Insurance company Farmers Group faced an outcry from employees when new CEO Raul Vargas reversed his predecessor’s remote work policy. In February, Amazon changed its pandemic-era remote work policy to require employees to be in the office at least three days a week. The ecommerce giant went as far as asking managers to consider office attendance alongside other factors like job performance when evaluating whether someone should get a promotion.
At Broadcom, Tan only permitted remote work in very limited cases, such as employees in the sales department who had to meet with clients regularly. Those who didn’t meet Tan’s requirements would need to clear an extraordinarily high bar. “Any other exception, you better learn how to walk on water if you want to work remote,” he told employees. “I’m serious.”
Many of Broadcom’s employees will move into VMWare’s Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters, which ironically had been largely empty thanks to its longstanding remote work policy, according to the San Francisco Standard.
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