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Aug. 19, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Among the 75,000 people at San Francisco’s Outside Lands music festival on Sunday, August 7, were 10 co-workers from Merge, an enterprise platform that integrates human resources, payroll, recruiting and accounting systems. The group, with a few chosen plus-ones, gathered at noon on one colleague’s Russian Hill rooftop. They lingered a bit, and then headed to the main event, bopping together from Weezer to Kim Petras to Mitski to Illeniem, wrapping up at around 10:30 p.m.

The next day, everyone was back at their desks inside Merge’s downtown office, adhering to their company’s strict five-days-per-week return-to-office mandate.

The fully in-person startup, though a rare breed, is beginning to emerge in tech hubs across the U.S. Though the vast majority of tech employers have opted for hybrid or fully remote policies—including the largest companies, like Apple, Google and Meta Platforms—Merge, along with several other outliers, has chosen to go all in on in-person work. And some employees have met the forced return to the office with open arms.

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