L’Oréal CEO Nicolas Hieronimus: Remote workers have ‘absolutely no attachment, no passion, no creativity’


Creative juices are geographically linked to the office—or so says L’Oréal’s CEO Nicolas Hieronimus.

According to the world’s largest cosmetics company veteran, remote workers have “absolutely no attachment, passion or creativity” and their “mental health” may even be at risk.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Hieronimus, who worked at L’Oréal for three decades before taking its helm in 2021, also insisted that in-office working is “vital” for both creativity and company profits, as per The Telegraph. 

 “I know so many employees of so many companies other than L’Oréal that have been working from home for months, that have absolutely no attachment, passion or creativity,” Hieronimus said.

“I think it’s vital to be in the office. It’s about serendipity. It’s about meeting people,” Hieronimus doubled down, adding that “working from home is actually very bad” for the “mental health” of workers with “small houses” or “young kids” in tow. 

“It’s vital for the company, and it’s vital for the employees. It’s also fair to the blue-collar workers that work every day in the factory.”

Fortune has contacted L’Oréal for comment.

Hybrid is king, even in Hieronimus’ eyes

It’s no secret that L’Oreal favors in-office work: The company which employs over 88,000 people started summoning its workers back to the office in 2020.

“One of the reasons that we hit the ground running after Covid is that we did not do like many tech companies [did] and say everybody works from home all the time and now they say: ‘Oh my God, that was a mistake, please come back’,” Hieronimus added, seemingly referring to companies like Zoom and Meta who took sharp U-turns on their working from home stances, last year.

Surprisingly, however, he doesn’t think workers need to be sat at their desks for five days a week to reap the benefits of collaboration.

While the French businessman said that being in the office consistently was crucial for collaboration, he counterbalanced: “Commuting every day is not necessary”.

The company requires workers to go into the office for a minimum of three days a week, with Hieronimus now wanting his workforce to show face on Fridays instead of Wednesdays—the reason for which remains unclear.

Experts and CEOs agree with Hieronimus’ assessment of remote workers 

Elon Musk has arguably been remote workers’ loudest critic, accusing them of kicking their feet up on company time and “pretending” to work.

But most CEOs, like Hieronimus, sit somewhere in between and believe that at least some remote work is beneficial.

When several dozen CEOs were recently asked who is working five days in the office at the Fortune CEO Initiative conference, only one executive held up their hand.

At the same event, Joe Preston, the CEO of New Balance, told Fortune that collaboration does not need to happen in person.

“You don’t need to be in the office to be entirely creative,” Preston said, adding that it’s only requiring working to show face Tuesday through Thursday.

The shoe maker’s three-day policy mirrors the average with research consistently showing that workers across the U.S., U.K. and Europe are operating on a hybrid schedule, suggesting that most CEOs agree with Preston and Hieronimus. 

What’s more, new data has echoed that just three days in the office is the optimum for getting noticed by management—and any more, won’t actually increase your odds of scoring a promotion or raise.

Meanwhile, for businesses, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the popular 3-2 pattern lowers attrition and increases efficiency. 

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