Despite doing “everything” to get employees to come back to the office, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said they’re not returning “at the level” he wants.
Speaking at The New York Times’s DealBook policy forum in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Schultz — who returned as interim CEO in April after Kevin Johnson stepped down from the role — said swaying staffers away from remote work and back to the office hasn’t been productive.
“I have been unsuccessful, despite everything I’ve tried to do, to get our people back to work,” Schultz, 69, said. “I’ve pleaded with them. I said I’ll get on my knees. I’ll do push-ups. Whatever you want. Come back.”
He continued: “No, they are not coming back at the level I want them to. And, you know, we’re a very collaborative, creative group. I realize I’m an old-school person and this is a different generation.”
Despite his frustration, Schultz has not mandated that corporate employees return to the office, instead offering “flexible options for eligible, non-retail roles” in the form of hybrid and remote positions, according to the Starbucks website.
“Hybrid workplace options depend on the individual role and are identified in our job postings,” the Starbucks website states. “Roles that do not have to be based in a specific location are labeled as ‘remote’ while roles that can be fulfilled in multiple locations, such as a combination of home and office, are indicated as ‘hybrid.'”
Starbucks did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment on Schultz’s statements or the company’s remote work policies.
Schultz’s hesitancy to demand full-time office work runs counter to recent efforts among other executives, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who reportedly told staffers to return to the office or resign. Musk has been openly critical or remote work, stating on Twitter that employees who are against working in the office “should pretend to work somewhere else.”
Schultz appeared to acquiesce to the idea of hybrid and remote work options, and said at the DealBook event that though he personally comes into the office at 7 a.m. and leaves at 7 p.m. regularly, flexible workplaces are now “the way it is.”
“I think people will come back two to three days a week and that’s the way — that’s the way it is,” he said. “But the thing that I am evaluating is, what’s the level of productivity? And you know, it appears that people are working at home.”