Bentonville-based Walmart is planning for up to 50% of its corporate employees to return to their offices by July, more than a year since most at the corporate campus moved to working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While it has been a challenging time, we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel in the fight against the coronavirus with millions of Americans rolling up their sleeves for vaccinations,” Walmart Chief People Officer Donna Morris noted in an April 19 email to employees that was provided to Talk Business & Politics.
After surveying employees over the past several months, Walmart said employees want the company to continue to prioritize health and well-being with office sanitization. Morris said Walmart will continue to use technology to connect employees working in different locations.
Morris also said employees expect more reassurance as vaccination rates increase and new COVID cases decline in the region. Morris said campus offices are a core part of the Walmart culture to collaborate, innovate and build relationships face-to-face, but said Walmart will provide flexibility to retain and attract the best and brightest talent.
The company plans to return some employees to their offices as early as June 30, but capacity constraints will remain in place. Walmart said it has added sanitation stations to all campus office lobbies with hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. The company is also monitoring air quality and said it is at or above all air quality codes in every facility. Touch-less options have been added to high-use shared spaces such as restrooms, printer zones and lobbies.
Walmart said it removed thousands of desks over the past year to ensure all workspaces accommodate social distancing. Conference rooms will be set up for social distancing with a limited number of rooms available to returning employees.
Walmart said it is working to expand options for outdoor collaboration spaces at some campus locations. Limited office space is available for use now on an as-needed basis, but employees must complete a health screening and work during their reserved time slots. Walmart employees are encouraged to get the vaccine but is not making the vaccine a mandate for physical returning to the campus.
“Walmart is a special company because of our people. We’ve been through a lot the past year as individuals, as a company and across the country. We’ve faced challenges together, and I am proud of how we have rallied as one team to serve our customers and communities and support our associates. We look forward to creating our new ways of working that will enable us to collaborate in person and provide flexibility as life requires, so we can contribute to building an even better Walmart for all,” Morris concluded in the email.