Walmart calls corporate employees back to office, global tech team to stay remote

Many Walmart company employees will soon have to return to the office after the company announced its upcoming plans in a memo Friday.

"We will transition to working together in our campus offices on a more regular basis starting the week of Nov. 8," Chief People Officer Donna Morris said. "While technology has enabled us to succeed while working virtually throughout the pandemic, there is no substitution for being in the offices together — it helps shape our culture, collaborate, innovate, build relationships and move faster."

The company shifted to remote work in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global lockdown. Morris said the decision to return to in-person work was due to all campus associates either being fully vaccinated or having approved accommodations. 

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The company’s global tech team will remain virtual for now.

"I look forward to the halls and conference rooms buzzing with energy," she added.

But the company will make some changes. Meetings will have a remote option and feedback will be solicited. 

Walmart required that all workers at its headquarters as well as its managers who travel within the U.S. be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 4. The vaccine mandate excluded frontline workers, who the company says have a lower vaccination rate than management. But it’s hoping that managerial employees, who represent just a fraction of its 1.5 million workers, will serve as inspiration.

Some companies are still grappling over when, and if, employees will come back to the office.

Microsoft told employees in September that it has indefinitely delayed their return to U.S. offices until it’s safer to do so. Microsoft had already postponed its planned return to the workplace from September. 

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"Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites," Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president, wrote in a blog post.

Many tech companies had plans for bringing back most of their workers around Labor Day weekend, but Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and a growing list of others have already decided to wait until next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.