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CEO of a tech company faces backlash for praising an employee who sold family dog due to return-to-office mandate

A tech company in Utah recently made a surprising announcement that left many of its remote workers feeling blindsided. The CEO, who had previously promoted a “remote-first” work culture, suddenly announced during a virtual meeting that all employees must return to the office to improve company performance.

Last October, CEO James Clarke  sent an email stating that there were “no plans” to make in-office work mandatory, but “circumstances” had “changed” since then. While the company declined to provide specific details about the decision, the spokesperson stated that the return-to-office mandate was necessary to achieve the company’s “collective goals.”

What really raised eyebrows was that the CEO praised an employee who had sold their family dog due to the decision to return to the office, citing as an example that “sacrifices are being made.”


via Reddit

And to make matters worse, the CEO also expressed doubts about the ability of working mothers to balance childcare and full-time employment, which did not sit well with many employees. During the meeting, the CEO accused some workers of “quietly quitting” by not logging into their laptops for a month, and even expressed skepticism about some remote workers secretly working multiple jobs. He basically said it’s not fair to anyone and asked for productivity, even citing his own education and the “Judeo-Christian ethic.”

The CEO’s comments during the town hall meeting did not go unnoticed, and an edited video started circulating on Reddit and YouTube, which sparked outrage among online viewers. However, those videos have been quickly taken down by the company due to a copyright claim.

Screengrab from YouTube |  Tech company’s CEO

While the mandate is permanent, it only applies to employees living within a 50-mile radius of the company headquarters. The company will be using Google Maps and employee addresses on file to enforce this rule, and moving outside of this radius will not exempt employees from the mandate.

The CEO claimed that employees who had returned to the office had seen improved collaboration, productivity, and accountability. The company hoped to have all eligible employees return to the “world-class facility” in Draper, UT, and considered the mandate necessary to achieve the company’s best work together.


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