L’Oreal, a multinational cosmetics company with a global workforce of 87,000 employees, has recently implemented a new attendance policy. This policy requires employees to report to the office for at least two Fridays every month. The change comes as a response to declining attendance at the end of the workweek. Previously, L’Oreal employees were expected to be in the office for three days each week. The policy was introduced in January and officially took effect on a Thursday, as reported by The Times.
Commitment to In-Person Work
L’Oreal has maintained a steadfast commitment to in-person work since its initial return to the office after the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. This decision was initially met with some resistance among employees, but the company’s leadership emphasized the unique nature of the beauty industry, which thrives on personal interactions and creativity that are challenging to replicate in a remote setting.
The current CEO of L’Oreal, Nicolas Hieronimus, echoed this sentiment during his recent appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Hieronimus expressed concerns about the loss of passion, attachment, and creativity among employees who extensively work from home. He attributed L’Oreal’s rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to their measured approach to remote working, which stands in contrast to tech companies that are now advocating for employees to return to the office.
A notable trend of employees favoring remote work on Mondays and Fridays was highlighted by a 2023 Business Insider poll that surveyed 16,000 respondents via LinkedIn. The poll revealed that 49% of respondents were reluctant to commute to the office on these particular days. It’s worth noting that several other major corporations, including Google, Amazon, JPMorgan, and Citigroup, have also called for a return to office-based work in the past year.
L’Oreal’s Innovative Incentives
L’Oreal’s proactive approach to returning employees to the office is not limited to mandatory Friday attendance. In fact, the company has introduced several innovative incentives to entice employees back to their physical workspaces. In November 2022, L’Oreal’s USA CEO, David Greenberg, announced that employees were required to return to the office for three days each week. To sweeten the deal, employees at L’Oreal’s West Coast headquarters in El Segundo, California, were offered the opportunity to hire a personal butler for various tasks at a cost of $5 per hour. This unique perk allowed employees to delegate personal chores such as refueling their cars, picking up laundry, or transporting their pets to and from doggy daycare.
L’Oreal has been offering concierge services in some capacity since 2009, but the pandemic prompted a renewed emphasis on this perk as a means to encourage employees to return to the office. The company’s offices also provide additional amenities, including gyms, restaurants, an abundance of complimentary products, and even coffee bars that occasionally transform into bars in the evening, as reported by Fortune in 2022.
L’Oreal’s Subsidized Concierge Perk
The crown jewel of L’Oreal’s workplace perks remains the subsidized concierge service. The company bears a portion of the cost to provide this benefit to its employees, a cost that CEO David Greenberg deemed worthwhile. He highlighted the people-centric nature of the cosmetics industry, emphasizing the importance of engagement, creativity, sharing, and learning from colleagues in fostering a thriving workplace environment.
What sets L’Oreal apart from many other major companies that have implemented return-to-office mandates, such as Meta, Salesforce, and Google, is its genuine effort to enhance the employee experience. While other companies have scaled back pandemic-era perks, L’Oreal has gone the extra mile to incentivize its employees to return to the office.
Fridays as the Focus
L’Oreal’s decision to make Fridays mandatory office days, twice a month, is a unique move that reflects the company’s commitment to fostering a collaborative and creative atmosphere. While many companies are grappling with the challenge of employees opting to work from home on Fridays, L’Oreal is one of the very few firms to mandate in-person presence on this particular day.
Fridays are often considered the least busy and least attended days in the office, as employees look forward to starting their weekends a bit earlier. Even before the pandemic, the concept of “Summer Fridays” resonated with many employees, indicating a general preference for easing into the weekend. The growing momentum behind the idea of four-day workweeks, typically involving the elimination of Fridays, further underscores the significance of L’Oreal’s decision to focus on Fridays.
L’Oreal’s Vision for the Future
L’Oreal’s CEO, Nicolas Hieronimus, remains steadfast in his belief that the office is essential for fostering attachment, passion, and creativity among employees. He emphasizes the value of serendipitous encounters and the opportunity for meaningful connections that the office environment provides. In his view, remote work is detrimental not only to the company but also to the mental well-being of employees.
While the world grapples with the evolving landscape of work and the balance between remote and in-person arrangements, L’Oreal’s commitment to in-office work continues to be a unique and noteworthy approach. The company’s belief in the importance of physical presence in the workplace as a driver of creativity and collaboration serves as a testament to their dedication to both their employees and the success of their business.
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