Uber is backtracking less than three months after announcing that its employees would be required to return to work at least three days per week.
The ride-hailing company’s global office workers will be able to apply for fully remote work or choose from a list of other offices instead of their pre-pandemic location, according to Nikki Krishnamurthy, the company’s chief people officer, in a blog post published Tuesday.
If you choose to return to the office, Uber (UBER) requires that you spend at least 50% of your time there, but it gives you more flexibility in how you structure that time. “This can be 3 days one week and 2 days the next week, or 5 days one week and 0 days the next week, depending on what works best for the employee and their team,” Krishnamurthy said.
It’s a sharp reversal for Uber, and it highlights the challenges that Silicon Valley’s biggest companies face in striking the right telework balance with their employees as the pandemic eases. They built the products that enabled remote work for many households throughout the pandemic.
Google, like Uber, initially announced that employees would be required to return to their pre-pandemic offices a few days a week, only to later loosen that policy by allowing employees to apply for permanent remote work or relocate their office.
“You might optimize more for flexibility, a little bit broader reach for talent anywhere, but will you give up your magic?” she told CNN Business in an interview in April. “And we just didn’t want to give up our magic.”
Krishnamurthy said earlier this year that Uber was willing to forego some of the remote work benefits that would allow it to attract talent from across the country, opting instead for the permanent remote options offered by companies like Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR).
However, Krishnamurthy said Tuesday that the company is continuing to collect feedback from employees and wants to provide more flexibility as it figures out the “right long-term model” for life after the pandemic. “While we still believe in the value of in-person collaboration and the community that builds, we also value our employees having the choice to decide where they want to work while they’re not in the office,” she said in the blog post.
Uber spokesperson Lois van der Laan told CNN Business that the updated guidance “is about finding an approach that works for as many current and future employees as possible,” when asked if there had been employee pushback to the original remote work policy.
Permanent remote work is an important part of Facebook and Twitter’s reopening strategy. Some employees could work from home “forever” if they wanted to, according to Twitter. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that he intends to work remotely for at least half of the coming year.
Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) will continue to require employees to work at least three days per week.