UPS orders workers to soon come into the office five days a week

Fortune 500 giant wants office workers to return to campuses starting in March
Views of UPS corporate headquarters in Sandy Springs shown on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Natrice Miller/

Views of UPS corporate headquarters in Sandy Springs shown on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (Natrice Miller/

Sandy Springs-based UPS will require its employees to come into the office five days a week starting March 4, becoming one of the most high-profile Georgia companies to mandate white collar workers report in-person since the pandemic.

The shipping giant in a memo to employees this week said the new policy will take effect in two months for UPS employees based on UPS campuses around the world.

“We acknowledge this news comes with excitement for some and mixed emotions for others. We are sharing this update now so you can plan and adjust,” says the memo to employees.

At the start of the pandemic, many offices closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, though frontline employees, service workers, medical personnel and other essential workers continued with in-person work. Many businesses continue to grapple with whether to institute return-to-office mandates even as many workers continue to prefer the flexibility of remote or hybrid work setups.

In turn, many corporations are rethinking their office space needs, which is reflected in part with Atlanta having a record high rate of vacant office space or space available for sublease.

UPS said some previously-approved remote positions will be permitted to continue, according to the memo, which was first reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The memo also acknowledged that for other employees, “business travel, sick days, caregiving needs, home repairs and other circumstances may require you to be away from the office occasionally.” It said employees can communicate with their managers who will still be able to allow “occasional flexwork, when life happens or business needs require working from alternate locations.“

Many companies have pushed for employees to return to work during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, and some have struggled, including UPS.

The company had originally aimed for a broad return to the office in September 2021, but has had a hybrid work policy until now.

Employees in the Atlanta region worked from home an average of four days per week early in the COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020. But that declined to three days a week by October 2022, according to surveys conducted by Georgia Commute Options, a program managed by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 44% of respondents said they never worked from home, and just 3% said they worked from home five days a week, according to the ARC survey.

But by October 2022, the last survey conducted, the share of people who said they wanted to work from home five days a week in the future was 45%. The share that said they never wanted to work from home was 3%.

Two-thirds of respondents said their commute was one of the main factors affecting their willingness to go into the office, according to the ARC survey.

UPS has more than 500,000 employees around the world, including hundreds of thousands of drivers and package handlers in its operations who have continued to work in-person throughout the pandemic.

The company says in the memo that its new policy for non-operations employees recognizes the commitment of those workers who have been working in facilities five days a week “and sometimes more.”

The memo says UPS is “a network company not just of logistics capabilities but of personal relationships too,” and its success “has long been based on our in-person connections with customers " and relationships cultivated at work.

The new policy comes after a period of challenges for UPS, which saw its revenue decline by 12.8% and its profit fall by more than half in the third quarter, its most recent earnings report.