An office lunch comeback for San Francisco
Front CEO Mathilde Collin recently tweeted a photo of a rare scene in San Francisco these days — tables full of tech workers eating lunch together in an office.
What’s happening: The customer service startup welcomed employees back into its Mid Market headquarters in late June. Moving forward, "Fronteers" — the nickname employees call themselves — will work in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless they receive an exemption.
- Some 75% of Front’s 450 employees worldwide will adhere to the requirement, while the remaining 25% will either be in the office full-time, completely remote or mostly remote.
- Front has around 220 employees in the Bay Area.
- “Rather than getting a lot of pushback from our employees … 91% agreed it aligned with their personal preferences,” chief people officer Ashley Alexander told Axios San Francisco regarding the “future of work” plan the company unveiled last October.
Why it matters: Front represents a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish return to the workplace.
- San Francisco’s percentage of workers back in the office — 38% as of mid-July — is among the lowest in major U.S. cities, according to the security firm Kastle.
- Some large tech companies, like Salesforce, LinkedIn and Lyft, have reopened their offices, but haven’t set company-wide requirements for working in-person. Others, like Twitter and Block (formerly Square), have moved to remote-first models.
- Nationally, companies are struggling to bring employees back as well. A Pew study from earlier this year found that 61% of remote workers are choosing to stay at home.
What they’re saying: “I see my teammates turning around in their chairs and having a huddle and discussing things,” Harper Casimiro, Front’s workplace experience manager, told Axios San Francisco. “It’s still so new that everyone comes out of those grinning [saying], ‘It's so much more efficient in person!’”
The intrigue: Perhaps aiding Front’s success in bringing employees back into the office is its Flexible Friday policy. Made official this year, Front employees need not take meetings, check-in with managers, or be online at all on Fridays — adding it to a growing list of companies rethinking the 5-day workweek.
- Some use the time for “heads down” work, while others unwind.
- Front reports that 89% of its employees say Flexible Fridays are a reason they want to stay with the company over the next two years, while 63% of new hires say it positively impacted their decision to join.
Of note: When they are in-person, office manager Casimiro says she’s “invigorated” by meeting new colleagues, especially as Front’s workforce has doubled since the start of the pandemic.
- As for the snacks, Casimiro says the candy goes fast. “They love having access to that here,” she said.
More San Francisco stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.