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Nike Reschedules Long Delayed Return-to-Office Date

Nike may finally return to the office in May.

The Oregon-based footwear company sent employees an email last week announcing that it would move to a “3/2 hybrid work” schedule on May 3, Insider, which reviewed a copy of the memo, reported Friday. It appears Nike will begin preparing workers for the shift on April 4, which will kick off a so-called “transition month.”

“Previously we set one return date—now, we are phasing our return over the coming months to give you the time, space and flexibility you need to plan and prepare,” chief human resources officer Monique Matheson wrote, according to Insider. “We are evaluating additional flexible work options and well-being initiatives, and expect to have some great news to share on this front in the coming months.”

Nike originally announced plans to transition back to the office under a hybrid model in May of last year. At the time, it said June would mark the beginning of the return for most employees. Services and amenities were to ramp up over the summer, with the hope that all buildings on campus would open at reduced capacity by September. The company would embrace a new working model where employees spent at least three days in the office and at most two days at home.

When the Delta variant unexpectedly brought yet another wave of Covid cases and hospitalizations, Nike decided to delay those plans. In August, it sent an email to employees saying the company would not reopen its offices until at least November. In October, it introduced a new date, Jan. 10, and joined the growing number of companies that were adopting vaccine requirements.

Then came Omicron. At first, Nike doubled down on its plans to return in January. At the time, Insider reported that a leaked email showed just 54 percent of employees approved of the return-to-office plan’s flexibility. As case numbers continued to soar, Nike reversed course and delayed its plans for the time being.

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“We’re ready to come back in a hybrid work environment when that’s safe,” CEO John Donahoe told investors at the time. “We’ll be ready, whether that’s first quarter or whenever it ends up being.”

Though Nike did not follow through on its January return date, it did make good on its promise to lay off those employees who refused to verify they had received a Covid-19 vaccine. Though those who were fired have sought to receive jobless aid, the Oregon Employee Department has denied one such effort by former Nike software engineer Alex Burkoff, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Monday, saying that the mandate was “reasonable” for remote workers.

Since laying off 700 employees at its Oregon headquarters in the first year of the pandemic, Nike has seen its total number of job openings climb steadily. In Beaverton alone, it now has nearly 650 open positions, about 100 more than in early December. Company-wide job openings have surpassed 2,000. In June of last year, they were below 1,400.

A current executive told Insider last month that Nike, like other major companies, was seeing job departures climb, “especially in the technology workforce.” In a survey of 1,200 U.S. tech employees, TalentLMS and Workable found that 56 percent see flexibility/remote work options as a top criterion when selecting a company. According to that same study—the pair released their results in October—72 percent were thinking of quitting their job in the next 12 months.