In the ongoing tug-of-war between companies and workers about returning to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic made remote work common, U.S. Bancorp CEO Andy Cecere recently made a plea to employees to start coming in more regularly.
In a memo sent to the Minneapolis-based bank’s workforce, he said most of the company’s corporate employees are still predominantly working remotely.
“Although performance is still strong, we’re seeing other things erode — like collaboration, engagement and how we demonstrate our culture as One U.S. Bank,” he wrote. “Being in the office won’t solve this at once, but it can and will help.”
Toward that end, he asked all hybrid workers to start working in the office more often and that the leadership team felt the “best balance” was three days a week.
“We also know that may seem far from reality for you right now; the transition doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it should be something you commit to like any new habit,” he wrote.
He said the company will re-evaluate the situation by early next year and then decide what steps to take next.
Jeff Shelman, a U.S. Bank spokesman, said that about half of the company’s employees are coming into the office at least once a week. He said its corporate offices have been fully open since early this year.
Of U.S. Bank’s 70,000 employees nationwide, about half are in hybrid roles.
As companies have been encouraging workers to return, many have promoted the benefits of office culture, collaboration and productivity.
In his memo, Cecere pointed to some of those same attributes while acknowledging the delicate balance between what companies and employees want. He recognized that employees want to keep the flexibility to work from anywhere. That has helped them balance work and family time and, more recently, cushioned the blow of higher gas prices and other inflationary costs.
Cecere said the company is proud to provide employees with flexibility, “assuming business results remain strong.”
At the same time, he said, the U.S. Bank leadership team sees a lot of value in an in-office culture.
“Collaboration happens faster,” Cecere said. “We can see engagement up close, and decision-making happens in real-time. It’s easier to keep a pulse on how effective we are as an organization when we can see people face-to-face more regularly, and this helps us sustain our culture.”
He said company leaders want the office to be center of work again.
“We don’t want that to be a mandate; we want it to be a choice,” Cecere wrote. “But to get to that point, we need people to give it real effort to succeed.”
©2022 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.