Companies want remote employees to return to the office

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 11:38 AM MDT
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(CNN) – Surveys show most employees prefer to work from home.

Since reopening their offices, many companies have offered a flexible, hybrid schedule to retain and attract talent.

But with the current economic climate and increasing inflation, businesses have more leverage to implement in-person work again.

As Shannon Archuleta hunts for a new tech job, deserting her home office and spending less time with her father has become a deal breaker.

“I will only work remote,” she said. “I, you know, have the flexibility to be able to take care of the things and responsibilities that I need to while being productive for the workforce.”

It’s a growing source of tension between employees and management.

Surveys show millions of workers want to stay home and would likely quit their job rather than go back to a daily commute.

Now, more executives may test that.

Elon Musk is the latest, demanding Tesla workers return to the office full-time or quit.

Goldman Sachs is already back full-time, and 90% of JP Morgan’s staff is there at least three days a week.

Their CEO Jamie Dimon said work from home “doesn’t work for those who want to hustle,” according to Reuters.

In New York, Mayor Eric Adams sent a memo telling city workers to get back to the office to re-energize the city’s economy.

“I’m trying to fill up office buildings,” he said.

A May survey found 76% of high up executives say in-person work is critical.

Overall, as of this week, employee office visits are barely over 40% of pre-pandemic levels, largely because in this hot jobs market, with 11 million openings, workers have leverage.

“If the employers put a firm stake in the ground, and say, you must come back, there’s that risk that people are going to move to a new job,” said Paul McDonald, executive director at Robert Half.

Apple delayed their return-to-office plans after backlash from employees. So did Cognizant, which helps operate Google Maps, after more than 100 workers signed a petition, with some threatening to strike if forced to return.

“We have been extremely productive and successful in these last two years, so it’s a huge win for us,” Cognizant employee Quinn Oksoktaruk said.

A survey tracking remote work since the early pandemic shows more companies are coming around on a post-pandemic hybrid work schedule, with on-average 30% of workdays done from home compared to 5% pre-pandemic.

Projections of a market cooldown and possible recession in the months ahead could tilt the tables and give employers more leverage.

The CEO of Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny Taylor Jr., said there will soon be more CEOs than just Musk demanding employees come back to work in the office.

People haven’t just changed the way they worked during the pandemic. Research shows millions of people bought homes farther away from their offices because they were working remotely.

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