Could core weeks be the answer to the return-to-office dilemma?

Smucker may have found the solution to our workplace woes.

It’s no secret that we’ve been stuck in workplace limbo since the pandemic.

A woman holding a laptop with clocks in the background.

And, as the years tick by, the chasm between what executives and employees want continues to widen.

But some companies have gotten creative: Per The Wall Street Journal, the J.M. Smucker Co. has introduced a new return-to-office plan that’s actually working, known as “core” weeks.

A what now?

Smucker’s headquarters is based in Orrville, Ohio, but its new RTO policy asks employees to be on site only 25% of the time (about six days/month), during 22 core weeks each year.

  • Employees are allowed to live anywhere in the US, as long as they can make it into the office for core weeks.
  • Smucker publishes its core week schedule a year in advance to allow employees to plan ahead.
  • Most core weeks are offered every other week, except for July and December, which only have one per month to allow for vacations.
  • Meetings requiring deep focus are reserved for core weeks.

During core weeks, the Orrville HQ is now ~70%-80% full, beating the national office occupancy average.

Policy perks

Core weeks aren’t just a PR stunt. Smucker has reaped other benefits from its new setup:

  • The company has more flexibility when recruiting and can tap talent pools outside of Ohio.
  • Employees log more hours during those weeks, with back-to-back meetings and post-work dinners.
  • Core weeks allow for increased socializing and spontaneous conversations.

The future-of-work struggle…

… is likely not over. From Meta to Zoom, companies are cracking down on remote work and implementing new policies daily.

But regardless of where employees clock in from, businesses should be wary of making too many policy changes — something that can sow distrust among employees.

So maybe, like Smucker’s Uncrustables, all the good stuff really is at the core.

Topics: Work

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