Frontier Airlines CEO says the pandemic made workers ‘lazy’ and less productive: ‘People are still allowing people to work from home, all this silliness, right?’ – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Frontier Airlines CEO says the pandemic made workers ‘lazy’ and less productive: ‘People are still allowing people to work from home, all this silliness, right?’

The Frontier Airlines CEO said the pandemic made workers “lazy.”

Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle criticized remote work, saying the pandemic made people lazy.
Domestic airlines like Frontier have been struggling as demand shifts toward international travel.
Biffle joins a growing list of execs critical of remote work, including Elon Musk and David Solomon.

Another CEO has weighed in on remote work amid a wider return-to-office push in corporate America.

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle criticized working from home while speaking at Morgan Stanley’s Laguna Conference this week, saying the pandemic made people lazy and that workers have gotten less productive as a result.

“This isn’t just a Frontier thing, this is society-wide,” Biffle said. “We got lazy in COVID. I mean seriously, people are still allowing people to work from home, all this silliness, right? All that’s out the window. So we need to get people back in the office.”

Domestic airlines like Frontier have been facing headwinds as demand for international travel has outpaced domestic travel this year. In August, the company reported in its most recent earnings call that its revenue per passenger for the second quarter of this year was $127, a year-over-year decline of 9%.

Biffle blamed lower productivity for higher overhead costs for the airline, and said that it was a problem across companies.

“When we look at overhead versus 2019 adjusted for capacity, it’s up dramatically,” Biffle said. “Why do I have more people per plane in overhead than I had in 2019? It’s because they’re not as productive. We’re not alone in this, you hear every company out there talking about the productivity challenges. Enough! We’re going to focus on it.”

Frontier Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Biffle isn’t alone in preferring in-office work

Biffle is hardly the first CEO to criticize remote work and remote workers, and an increasing number of companies like Meta, Amazon, Apple, Google, and even video-meeting company Zoom have been pushing employees to return to the office for at least part of the week.

Elon Musk called remote work “morally wrong” earlier this year, saying in an interview with CNBC that he thinks remote workers need to “get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bullshit because they’re asking everyone else to not work from home while they do.”

Millionaire Australian real-estate CEO Tim Gurner was criticized by some, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for saying earlier this week that COVID has made workers unproductive and that a rise of unemployment was needed “to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around.”

Following widespread backlash, Gurner apologized in a LinkedIn post, saying he regretted the remarks and that his  comments were “deeply insensitive to employees, tradies and families across Australia who are affected by these cost-of-living pressures and job losses.”

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon was one of the first high-profile executives to be vocal about his dislike for remote work, including at the height of the pandemic when vaccines were not yet widely available.

“This is not ideal for us, and it’s not a new normal,” Solomon said at a conference in February 2021 regarding remote work, Bloomberg reported. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

While Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t denounced remote work, Meta has made its RTO policy stricter, saying this summer that workers must go into the office at least three times a week or risk losing their jobs. Zuckerberg has said data showed some employees who joined the company in person or stayed in person performed better than those who joined and continued to work remotely.

“Engineers earlier in their career perform better on average when they work in-person with teammates at least three days a week,” he wrote in a company announcement earlier this year.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, whose company benefited from remote workers being able to work out of Airbnbs during the pandemic, has voiced support for being fully remote — Airbnb announced last year that it would allow employees to “live and work from anywhere” without pay loss if they stayed in their home countries.

As the debate over working from home continues, there have been conflicting conclusions from studies on whether remote work is conducive to productivity. Different studies measure productivity in different ways, examine different industries and various kinds of tasks, and look at workers in different countries. For example, one recent study of data-entry workers in India indicated a 18% drop in productivity when working from home, while research conducted by Harvard Business School associate professor Prithwiraj Choudhury found that a hybrid policy, in which workers spent 75% of their time working from home, resulted in the most productive workers.

The big question of productivity aside, there are signs that hybrid policies that give workers some level of flexibility can be viewed as a perk. Companies offering at least one day of remote work per week have been able to hire more quickly than those that don’t, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an analysis of 3,600 companies. Research indicated that employees today view hybrid work accommodations as equal to an 8% pay increase, the Journal reported.

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