While other companies grapple with best practices to lure employees back to the office, iconic motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson has decided to embrace remote work.
- After closing its office for the initial COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, the motorcycle company still hasn’t fully reopened.
- CEO Jochen Zeitz is beginning to make plans for repurposing the office space—cementing the company’s commitment to remote work.
- Zeitz has not announced how the building will be reused, but says that the building will remain an important part of the company.
Why it’s news
Zeitz took over Harley-Davidson as CEO in 2020. At a time of major changes to the way employees go to work, Zeitz grew to appreciate the freedom remote work offered.
While Zeitz sees remote work as a more healthy way for employees to find a work-life balance, he also seems to view it as a way to recruit the best talent for expanding areas of business.
Harley-Davidson’s line of electric motorcycles recently spun off into its own company, LiveWire, and remote work options give Zeitz the opportunity to hire the best employees from across the country.
Currently, LiveWire bikes are built in factories in Pennsylvania—but developed in labs in Silicon Valley and Milwaukee.
The other side
In contrast to Zietz’s openness to remote-work opportunities, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and many of the major investment banks have remained firm on their order for employees to return to the office.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon reported that 65% of staff are in the office on any given day, compared with the pre-pandemic level of 75%.
Musk ordered employees back to the office for full 40-hour work weeks. Before the pandemic, some employees had the option to do some remote work. Now that all employees are mandated to return, Tesla is struggling to find enough office space.
Though Musk has remained strong on his demand for employees to return to the office, General Motors recently walked back a similar decision after significant employee blowback.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra issued an apology to workers for the timing of an email detailing a return-to-work plan that included mandatory three days in-person work.
Pushback from employees caused Barra to partially retract the decision, apologizing for the timing of the message and saying that the plan won’t be enforced this year, but more in-person presence will be expected down the line.
For the time being, General Motors will continue with their current “Work Appropriately” guidelines which state: “employees have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact to achieve their goals and for their individual success.”