Business Starbucks and Disney are forcing workers back to the...

Starbucks and Disney are forcing workers back to the office, but is your company next?


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Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Given the extensive headlines about Disney and Starbucks sending employees back to the office, you might think this is the start of another back-to-office return across the board. But do such headlines represent the reality of a new wave or are they just clickbait for anxious employees who want to avoid the threat of a forced return to the office?

Recent survey data of The Conference Board provides surprising insight into how companies deal with the hybrid workplace policy. After a survey of 1,100 business leaders across industries around the world, including 24% from the US, The Conference Board revealed that Disney and Starbucks are the exception, not the rule. In fact, a small proportion of US CEOs – 3% – said they would reduce the availability of remote working in their company. That 3% includes Disney and Starbucks.

In contrast, 5% said they would expand it. For example, think of Elon Musk on Twitter. After initially sending all Twitter employees back to the office, he now reversed course. He embraced remote work by closing Twitter’s Seattle and Singapore offices and directing all staff to work remotely.

In short, it is likely that 2023 will see a slight expansion of employees working remotely. These findings suggest that the majority of companies hybrid workplace policy to be a successful solution for their organization.

Case study: Successful hybrid workplace policy

An example of a company that has successfully implemented a hybrid workplace policy is a large financial services company that I know of consult before. Prior to the pandemic, this company had a traditional office-based work model. However, when the pandemic hit, the company quickly switched to remote working to keep employees safe.

As the pandemic progressed, the company realized that remote working was not only effective, but also improved employee satisfaction. So they decided to adopt a hybrid workplace policy that allowed employees to work both remotely and in the office. This approach has enabled the company to continue to operate effectively while supporting the unique needs of its employees.

Related: They say remote work is bad for employees, but most research suggests otherwise — explains a behavioral economist.

Case Study: Challenges to Hybrid Workplace Policies

Another example is a mid-sized IT service company. They initially struggled with the transition to remote work and hybrid workplace policies, as their industry requires face-to-face interactions with customers. They quickly realized that the lack of collaboration and communication between employees working remotely and in the office resulted in a decline in employee productivity and satisfaction.

To address this, the company engaged me to advise them on how to improve their approach. With my advice, they have implemented a number of measures to improve collaboration and communication, such as weekly one-on-one between supervisors and supervisees, and setting clear expectations for communication and collaboration. These measures have helped stabilize the company’s performance and the hybrid workplace policy is now working well for them.

Benefits hybrid workplace policy

One of the main benefits of the hybrid workplace policy is the greater flexibility it offers employees. Remote working can provide a better work-life balance, as well as the ability to work from locations that may be more convenient for employees. This can lead to more job satisfaction and employee retention, which can be especially important in a competitive job market.

In addition, the hybrid workplace policy can also lead to cost savings for companies. By reducing the need for office space, businesses can lower their overheads and potentially save on costs such as electricity, internet and office supplies.

Cognitive biases and hybrid workplace policies

However, it is important to note that implementing a hybrid workplace policy is not without its challenges. One potential problem is the impact of cognitive biases on decision making. For example the availability heuristicwhich refers to people’s tendency to base their judgments on information most readily available to them, can lead leaders to rely too much on their personal experiences of remote work rather than taking into account unique needs and circumstances of their organization.

Another cognitive bias that may play a role is the sunk cost fallacy, which refers to the tendency of people to keep investing in a decision or strategy because they have already invested resources in it, even if it is not the most effective solution. This can lead leaders to stick with their initial hybrid workplace policy, even if it doesn’t work well for their organization, rather than receive advice and training on how to improve their approach to hybrid work.

Related: A Pervasive Myth Employers believe this hurts their remote workforce


The Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to rethink the way they work. The hybrid workplace policy has become a popular solution for many organizations as it allows for a more flexible and adaptable approach to work. However, it is important for leaders to be aware of the potential impact of cognitive biases on decision making when implementing a hybrid workplace policy. Through careful planning and regular reviews, companies can successfully overcome the challenges of hybrid workplace policies and stabilize their business.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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