Chronicle Journal: Finance

Remote work has taught chip giant Intel to 'challenge assumptions' in a massive culture shift. Here's how it's planning its return to the office. (INTC)

Intel officeAmir Cohen/Reuters

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Prior to the pandemic, Intel employees predominantly worked on site — especially since much of its work takes place in factories and labs.

This has meant a tremendous cultural shift for the company and its more than 113,000 employees as they worked remotely over the past year and a half. Remote work was "one of the biggest transformations of Intel's history," Amber Wiseley, senior director of global benefits at Intel, told Insider, adding that it taught the company to "challenge assumptions." Intel will now offer three work models to employees: fully remote, fully on-site, and a hybrid.

"We've got a lot of factories and a lot of energy around our sites where we make our products and design our products," Wiseley said. "That's part of our culture and history. Now we have moved to this social experiment of working from home."

Most of the $211 billion chip giant's employees currently work remotely, although those who work in factories and labs must work on-site. Its number of on-site employees will likely grow, as Intel announced earlier this year that it's investing $20 billion in building new factories in Arizona. 

Intel currently doesn't have a specific return date, but it plans to invite its employees back on site "as soon as it's safe to do so," Wiseley said. Employees will be invited back on site in phases, based on COVID safety protocols in the geographic location.

Some roles, like those in factories and labs, will require employees to work on-site. Many of these employees are already doing that. Their work doesn't look much different from pre-COVID times, although there are fewer people on site since some employees can work from home.

In addition, employees will have the option to request to work fully remotely if they want, although it will need to go through corporate guidelines. This depends on if their job can be performed fully remotely and if they are living in an approved location. There may be salary adjustments, depending on location, but it's a case-by-case basis, Wiseley said.

Intel will also be rolling out a new hybrid option where employees can have more flexibility to choose whether they want to work remotely or in the office. In practice, this would mean employees could be working some days on-site and some remotely. Wiseley expects that this option will apply to most of Intel's employees. The company also plans to enhance the way it uses its office space so that employees can work temporarily at other office locations besides their typical one. 

"We're embracing the idea of employee choice," Wiseley said. "Being able to have more and more flexibility should just unlock productivity, creativity, and the ability to solve the most difficult problems."

Having these three options could be a competitive advantage for Intel and help the company attract and retain talent, Wiseley said.

"We're recognizing that we don't have a one size fits all approach and that we're going to do our best to embrace that diversity and meet our employees where they're at," Wiseley said. 

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