AT&T employees have joined the movement to push back against return-to-office mandates.
AT&T has become the newest company to mandate a return to the office for its remote staff, and employees are unhappy. Communications Workers of America, who represents AT&T’s employees, struck a deal to extend remote work through at least March 2023, but are reporting that the company is mandating workers return before then, according to Fortune.
Kieran Knutson is a Minneapolis-based call center leader who has worked for AT&T for nearly 20 years, and he started a Change.org petition to appeal the decision. The petition drew more attention than he expected and has drawn employees from across the country who share his desire to protect remote work. It has over 7,800 signatures at the time of writing.
“Let AT&T and CWA know that our members want a permanent, compensated Work From Home option now and going forward into the future. We also support our members that do want to work at a central business location and support keeping this option as well,” says the petition.
“Our managers have actually been supportive because they have our same issues. There was some sympathy. But clearly, it’s a different sentiment in the towers high above us,” Knutson told Fortune.
Why it’s important
Many large companies are struggling with how to handle the viability and usefulness of remote work. Studies from Deloitte and Pew Research indicate that many employees prefer working at home and see regular benefits from it. 61% of remote workers do so by choice and 99% of remote workers report positive effects on their lives.
As we previously reported, corporations are reporting the adverse effects remote work has on company cultures, communications, and profitability. Apple has been one of several companies threatening mandates to return staff to the office part-time. Employees aligned with the AppleTogether solidarity union opposed the mandate and gathered nearly 1,000 signatures to appeal it.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we adhere to guidance from the medical community, including implementing safety protocols to help protect our employees’ well-being. And now that we are a largely vaccinated workforce, we believe it’s safe for employees to return to the workplace. We do our best work when we’re together,” says AT&T.
Knutson defended the quality of work his remote co-workers have done, saying “productivity became higher, attendance became higher.”
An AT&T research study from March found that hybrid remote-office work will be the industry standard working model by 2024, with 56% of work done offsite.