- Starbucks is requiring corporate employees who live within “commuting distance” of the company’s Seattle headquarters and regional centers to return to in-office work three days a week beginning Jan. 30, Interim-CEO Howard Schultz wrote in a letter to employees Wednesday.
- Schultz framed the decision as a way to improve Starbucks’ support for its in-store workers.
- The chain’s previous hybrid work policy was premised on voluntary employee office attendance for one or two days a week, but data on badge use indicated many workers were not coming into offices even one day a week, Schultz said.
Schultz, who said last year that he was pleading with office workers to return in person, said the new corporate ordinance was a requirement that should be treated like every other workplace policy.
Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment about how many workers would be impacted by the policy, or how the company defined “commuting distance.” According to the company’s website, about 4,500 corporate employees work out of the chain’s Seattle headquarters, which the company refers to as the “Starbucks Support Center.”
Workers at the Seattle SSC will be expected to work in-office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and another weekday of their choice, per the letter. Those employed at regional centers will be expected to work in the office one day a week chosen by local leadership, and the other two in-office days will be left to employee discretion.
In-person meetings and rituals, including coffee tastings, are key to the company’s internal culture, Schultz said. Schultz also alluded to operational troubles, some of which have played a role in driving thousands of Starbucks workers to unionize, that he feels have resulted from remote work. The company will work to simplify baristas’ jobs and increase support for its partners, Schultz said, though he did not specify what polices Starbucks would examine or change.
“Our Modern Workplace team has spent the past two years tirelessly redesigning a workplace of the future with countless amenities to support an inspiring and uplifting environment. We are providing those resources in support of enabling your very best contributions,” Schultz wrote.