10 Return To Office Statistics That Show Mandates Fail

Empty office.
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You’ve probably seen some of the media headlines of companies mandating a return to office (RTO) to remote employees. 

Instead of providing a choice, it’s either employees return, quit, or get fired. 

And we all know that forcing someone is always a great way to build company morale….but those executives don’t often care.

Even after all the recent years that show remote employees are capable of doing great work and productivity still thrives – RTO is still happening fairly often. 

Yet something has also unveiled itself in these last few years: return to office mandates are not working out well. I collected a few return to office statistics that show some very interesting things, let’s dive in. 

Return to Office Statistics to Know

With the remote work debate, there has been many research studies done to understand what impact it is having in the workforce. 

While we know it’s not perfect (hint, neither is in office work!), working remotely has been overwhelmingly positive even when some business leaders would like to say otherwise. 

So let’s get into some data, shall we? 

  • 42% of companies with return to office mandates suffered more employee attrition. (Unispace)
  • Almost a third (29%) of companies enforcing office returns are struggling with recruitment. (Unispace)
  • In a poll, 65% of workers said they would prefer to work remotely indefinitely. Most cited that flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance provided by remote work. (Forbes)
  • Employees from historically underrepresented groups are 22% more likely to consider other options if flexibility comes to an end. (Greenhouse Candidate Experience)
  • 80% of bosses regret their initial return to office decisions and say they would have approached their plans differently. (Envoy)
  • 21% of those requiring workers to return said they lost “key” members of staff. (Workflife)
  • Only about 3% of employees want to return to the office five days a week. (Advanced Workplace)
  • 54% of hybrid or remote workers would consider finding a new job if their employers demanded full-time return to the office. (HubSpot)

Why Companies Are Enforcing Return to Office?

So why are many organizations pushing for a return to office, especially when most have seen success with remote employees?

It’s a question many employees are asking and trying to fathom why there is such a heavy push back from executive leaders. 

From what I’ve gathered and learned, it can be one of a few reasons or a combo of things.

  • Money. Most issues come down to the money. And if the company is stuck in a major corporate lease, new offices that were built, etc. – it can be a reason for the push to return to work to justify the bleeding commercial real estate costs. 
  • Instead of announcing layoffs right away, the leaders push for an office return in the hopes some remote employees will quit. It can make it easy on the company and less negative attention if layoffs are announced. And yes, often remote workers are targeted more for layoffs.
  • Some cliche excuse about productivity and collaboration. While sometimes this can lag a bit in remote work, it’s often due to poor handling of team collaboration and strategy. Most companies that are hybrid think “in-office” processes will carry over easily to remote. When it fails, it’s remote work that is blamed. 
  • No real excuse other than it’s a form of corporate control. Some companies are paranoid that they can’t constantly micromanage or afraid of change in how work is done. 

So where does this leave us…

If your company is demanding you return to the office, you have a few choices to make. 

  • If you don’t mind returning to the office full-time, then go for it. Job security is important and you have to make the best choice for you and your family. And if you don’t live in the same State or general area, you could ask for relocation assistance. Some companies may approve it and others will say no. 
  • See if you can get a special request to remain remote if it means that much to you. However, you’ll probably be forced to return to the office later down the road if they don’t lay you off first. Yes, you will probably be targeted for not wanting to work in the office.
  • Start looking for a new remote job where the company is fully-remote or operates as a remote-first organization. You could also look for a hybrid company where they have some fully remote job positions, but you never know when a “return to office” memo will come your way. 

Ready to find legit remote jobs at companies not forcing employees to return to the office? Check out our job board of vetted remote jobs. And you can also create a free job seeker profile to join our talent network where recruiters can reach out directly to you with remote opportunities. 

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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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