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Younger workers may find it 'harder to be successful' if they don't go into the office, Slack co-founder says

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Younger workers may find it 'harder to be successful' if they don't go into the office, Slack co-founder says
  • Slack's co-founder Cal Henderson shared his thoughts about remote work in an Insider interview.
  • He said young people in some industries may struggle if they're not with colleagues in the office.

Young workers in some industries like finance and sales could struggle to be successful if they don't get the opportunity to learn alongside senior colleagues in the office, Slack's co-founder told Insider in an interview.

Cal Henderson, who co-founded Slack in 2009 and is its chief technology officer, chimed in on the debate around remote working saying there are a few different reasons why major firms like Meta and Google are mandating workers to return to the office a few days a week.

It's partly because some roles and industries are apprenticeship driven and "you learn by watching somebody who's more experienced than you do the job," he said.

He continued: "You sit next to them, you ride along on a sales phone call, you watch a finance person put together a spreadsheet in the middle of the night – like the people who are working at Goldman Sachs. It's a very different experience if your VP isn't there in the office with you as you work overnight on something."

It's harder to "replicate" this experience in "a hybrid way," he added.

Salesforce, the software company that acquired Slack in 2021, planned to call employees back to the office at least three days a week despite pushing flexible working policies during the pandemic.

Henderson emphasized that "in my organization, the people who come into the office most, by far, are interns," because it's their first experience of work and many are living in small apartments or flat shares.

He clarified that he thinks workers who interned or were very early in their careers during the pandemic "still learned to do their jobs" and are just "as productive as anybody else."

Executives and professors are divided on the topic. NYU professor Scott Galloway previously said that young people "should never be at home" if they want to be successful professionally.

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Twitter, has strong sentiments against remote and hybrid work having previously said it's "morally wrong."

In regard to Musk's comments Henderson said: "Elon Musk isn't in the office every day because he's the CEO of three companies. He can't even be in the office every other day at each of his companies."

Still, "I think there are certain kinds of roles in which it's much harder to be successful unless you're able to learn from other people and those roles won't necessarily evolve anytime soon to make that not true," he said.




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