This could be a big deal, a tremor as the world returns somewhat to normal after a year in pandemic mode.
In an internal memo to some 10,000 tech workers in Silicon Valley, according to CNBC, Walmart said it was rethinking how it uses its offices and brainstorming ways to make it easier for them to work remotely.
“We believe the way of working in the future, particularly in tech, will be fundamentally different than it was before,” he wrote in the email. “We believe it will be one in which working virtually will be the new normal, at least for most of the work we lead.”
Instead of having employees come to the office each day, he said office space “will be used primarily for collaboration, to sync up and strengthen camaraderie.”
“We’ll be together, at times, and for a purpose,” he said in the memo.
Employees to be primarily virtual? It sounds important.
What does this mean elsewhere in Walmart, whose major employment centers include thousands at headquarters in Bentonville? Time will tell. Founder Sam Walton was famous for management by walking around — looking in on workers at work.
It might be that tech is different than other office jobs. Silicon Valley office issues also include stratospheric real estate costs and Walmart apparently will reduce leased space there substantially. Might this impact development of the new Walmart campus in Bentonville? A question for the future.
We also don’t know if off-shoring of tech jobs could be a factor in the Silicon Valley memo.
But we already know Walmart is not alone among major employers telling employees they may not have to return to the office. And why not? It has proved effective for many. It reduces overhead. It results in some people working more — if at odd hours — rather than less. (I’ve been a home worker for 14 months now, with no disruptions for commuting. A computer and phone are at hand any hour of the day or night. I like it. It’s much easier to schedule a repair call. I continue to work while waiting during a four-hour scheduled call window. I can run down the hall to wash a load of clothes or start cooking dinner during slack periods rather than idly web surfing.)
These types of workplace changes have consequences in many ways — traffic on commuter highways; housing in cities where such jobs are changing, school choices and lots more.
Brave new world.