Smucker’s Leads the Way Out of the Hybrid Work Jam

(Photo Credit: Jonathan Pielmayer/Unsplash)
(Photo Credit: Jonathan Pielmayer/Unsplash)

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With a name like Smucker’s, the return-to-office policy has to be sweet.

The 126-year-old jelly maker may have cracked the code on how to get employees back in the office without massive waves of resentment, The Wall Street Journal reported.

We’re Jammin’

When the pandemic hit, everyone went home, and many stayed there. Once-bustling cities like New York and San Francisco turned into ghost towns, and even today, major corporate offices are only half as full as they were pre-covid, which has taken quite a toll on municipal tax bases, downtown businesses, and public transportation ridership.

While many workers have excelled at their jobs remotely, most employers have ordered a return to the office for at least part of the week to foster a traditional sense of teamwork and camaraderie. But some workers have either disregarded or begrudgingly accepted the new rules. But Orrville, Ohio-based Smucker’s might hold the key to the perfect hybrid model:

  • Smucker’s is requiring corporate employees to be at its Orrville office 25% of the year, or six days a month. The company schedules 22 “core weeks” a year in advance, so employees have plenty of time to choose which days they’ll go in.
  • Some drive in from nearby cities while others are considered super-commuters, booking flights and staying at Airbnbs. The headquarters is now 70% to 80% full, above the national average, and employees are logging additional hours while in the office.

Right for the Job: Smucker’s executives told the WSJ the policy has helped weed out weaker candidates when hiring, too. Orrville isn’t as lively as nearby Akron or Cincinnati, so it’s a green flag for Smucker’s when someone says they’re willing to travel to the office. “We’re not limited by geography. We’re limited by the fact that we’re going to want you here. You need to have a presence,” John Nicholas, a Smucker’s vice president, said. “It’s unleashed, I think, the ability to get the best talent.”