Walmart announces corporate staff will return to office in November

Walmart announced its corporate employees will return to the office during the week of Nov. 8, the company said Friday.

“We had a way of working before the pandemic and we developed an effective way of working during the pandemic. Now, I’m excited about our new, more flexible way of working,” Donna Morris, chief people officer, said in a statement Friday.

Walmart, with nearly 1.6 million US employees, is the nation’s largest private retailer. The majority of the company’s employees work in its warehouses and brick-and-mortar stores. Many of those in-store employees who have to follow President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring people who work for businesses with more than 100 employees get vaccinated or do weekly testing.

“As part of our ongoing efforts, we made the decision to have vaccinations as a condition of employment for all campus office associates and field leaders (or have an approved religious or medical accommodation),” a Walmart spokesperson said.

Walmart’s global tech team of about 10,000 is excluded from the return-to-office plans. In May, Walmart announced its tech workers would continue working remotely even post-pandemic.

Morris said all campus associates will be “fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation in November.” And in late July, the company announced all campus office associates and regional should be vaccinated by Oct. 4, unless they have an approved exception. In early October, Walmart said “the overwhelming majority” have been vaccinated.

Morris said employees will hear from their leaders soon on expectations.

The company is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, and is currently building a new campus in the city. Walmart also has offices in Hoboken, NJ, as well as San Bruno and Sunnyvale, CA.

“We also never imagined the playbook for being back on campus together would be adjusted so many times throughout the various waves of the pandemic,” Morris said in the statement.

Walmart’s announcement is a break from other big-box retailers’ plans for their corporate employees. Earlier in October, Amazon said it would allow individual teams to decide on a return-to-office policy.

“We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a note to employees.

Target told employees in August it will not require office workers to return until 2022.

The pandemic has made companies rethink how they approach work life. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting and consulting giant, said in October it will allow all its 40,000 US-based service employees to work virtually from anywhere in the United States.

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