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Half of Workers Would Rather Quit Than Return to the Office Full Time

Robert Half research reveals employers' return-to-office plans and the potential risk of requiring employees to work on-site five days a week.
Photo: Shutterstock

After two years of uncertainty, many companies are eager to call employees back to the office for good, new research from talent solutions and business consulting firm Robert Half shows. In a survey of more than 2,300 senior managers in the U.S., two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said they want their teams to work on-site full time as COVID-19-related restrictions ease. This is down five points from a similar survey conducted last year, suggesting some companies have warmed up to the idea of flexible work.

Hybrid work models give employers and employees flexibility and choice and are the way forward. However, currently, only one-in-three senior managers support long-term hybrid schedules (where staff can divide time between the office and another location) and employees’ ability to choose where they work. Those in technology (37 percent) are most open to flexibility.

The Risk of an Employee Exodus

Return-to-office plans may lead to more resignations, other research from Robert Half shows. In a survey of more than 1,000 professionals, half of respondents currently working from home (50 percent) would look for a new job that offers remote options if their company required employees to return to the office full time, up 16 points from one year ago. Working parents (55 percent) and millennial professionals (65 percent) are mostly likely to quit if called back.

“Employers may be holding onto the idea that the office is the best place to collaborate, innovate, and get things done—but workers feel otherwise,” says Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “Companies already face retention challenges, and taking away remote options will only exacerbate the problem. Hybrid work models give employers and employees flexibility and choice and are the way forward.”

How to Embrace a Flexible Work Model

Companies may want to adopt a long-term hybrid work model, but many don’t know where to start. Trisha Plovie, senior vice president of future of work at Robert Half, offers five questions to help guide the process:

  1. How will you define “hybrid?” Will employees be required to come to the office certain days each week or only for specific purposes, such as trainings or team building? 
  2. How can you improve your onboarding experience? As you hire remote employees, consider how you will make them feel welcome, supported, and part of a team they might never meet in person. 
  3. Do you have the right technology to support effective communication and collaboration? Consider what new tools to implement to create a seamless experience for onsite and remote staff. 
  4. What business processes will be impacted? Anticipate problems, adjust workflows, and ensure everyone has access to the resources they need. 
  5. How will you build and maintain engagement and morale? Create equal opportunities for all employees to grow and develop, network, and build authentic relationships with colleagues.
About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.