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Smucker's Employees Actually Want to Go Into the Office — Here's Why The Company's Return-to-Office Policy Works Unlike other companies that have mandated strict in-person attendance, Smucker's strategy allows its 1,300 corporate workers to be on site primarily during 22 designated "core" weeks each year.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Key Takeaways

  • Smucker's hybrid model allows employees to live anywhere, but encourages attendance during designated weeks of the year.
  • "Core weeks are crazy here," one employee said.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

J.M. Smucker, the company best known for its fruity jams and brands like Jif and Folgers, has adopted an uncommon return-to-office approach that employees seem to actually like.

At the company's Orrville, Ohio, campus, Smucker's has implemented a strategy where about 1,300 corporate workers are expected to be on-site during 22 "core weeks" annually, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Employees can live anywhere in the U.S. as long as they make their way to Orrville at least 25% of the time or six days a month, which the company encourages during these core weeks.

Mark Smucker, chief executive officer of J.M. Smucker. Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg | Getty Images.

Smucker's approach incentivizes pivotal blocks of time for the company to be together, rather than adopting a year-round hybrid model. The policy is being followed by employees with limited resistance, Smucker's executives told the WSJ.

"We kind of take advantage of the time when we know we're going to be here," Nicole Massey, a Smucker employee who lives in San Francisco but commutes to Orrville once a year, told the WSJ.

The unique approach comes in stark contrast to the many companies pushing for more in-person presence, such as tech giants Meta, Google, Amazon, and even remote-work facilitator Zoom. Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings said that there are no "positives" to remote work and that it is a "pure negative."

In some cases, these initiatives have rubbed workers the wrong way. In June, over one hundred employees at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, Washington staged a protest and walked out in retaliation to the return-to-office mandate.

Related: Desperate to Get Employees Back Into the Office, Companies Experiment With New Tactics

Smucker's execs also told the WSJ that the model has helped with recruiting, as some prospective employees may not be overall interested in a position located in Ohio, but could buy into an annual company-wide event, executives told the outlet.

"Core weeks are crazy here," Jarod Shamp, a manager at Smucker's, told the outlet.

But these core weeks aren't necessarily "crazy" busy or packed with to-do's. Instead, many managers keep their schedules open or flexible during the core weeks to factor in impromptu catch-ups with co-workers and "spontaneous hallway conversations," said John Nicholas, a company vice president.

"We're not limited by geography. We're limited by the fact that we're going to want you here. You need to have a presence," he said.

Related: 'Hybrid Work or I Quit' Say 50% of Financial Professionals. Here's Why Work Flexibility is a Non-Negotiable.

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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