Highmark CEO mandates hybrid schedule for some employees

Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health will soon require about 9,000 more workers to spend a portion of the week in-office, CEO David Holmberg told Patriot-News

Around 18,000 employees have been working from home since the early days of COVID-19, according to Mr. Holmberg. About half of them will be required to come into the office at least three days per week beginning Sept. 5. 

The new hybrid schedule is now being phrased as a requirement rather than an expectation, as it was termed earlier in the month. 

"We pivoted in four days at the beginning of the pandemic to work from anywhere and the team did a really good job," Mr. Holmberg told the newspaper. "But now that we're three years into this, we believe very strongly that we're a people business, that our customers, our members, our patients need us to be engaged wholly … [in] certain positions where i'’s important for individuals to be face-to-face."

Many of the employees being summoned to the office have leadership and mentorship skills, Mr. Holmberg said. 

CEOs' calls-to-office have been met with disdain from employees, who enjoy commute-free mornings and the freedom to work wherever. A recent survey found that 89 percent of U.S. workers prefer a flexible schedule option; some even say they would rather quit than return to the office full-time. 

But more chief executives are mandating on-site work regardless of employees' preferences, often for the sake of face-time and culture. As Mr. Holmberg put it, "We think it's important periodically for people to get into a room and work together."


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