As the vaccination efforts ramp up across the country, a number of companies are bringing employees back to the office after months of remote work. On Tuesday, Robert Half published findings related to a recent remote work survey highlighting employee sentiment about returning to the office, hybrid work preferences and wish list items for office reentry.
“After a year of drastic change, many business leaders are eager to restore a sense of normalcy and welcome staff back to the office,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “But reopening doors will bring new obstacles for companies to navigate. Not all employees will be ready—or willing—to return to the workplace, so staying flexible and responsive to their needs will be critical.”
Employee preferences: Remote, hybrid or on-site?
The Robert Half survey involved more than 1,000 U.S. workers and was conducted from March 9 through 16. Overall, about one-quarter of respondents said they’d prefer to work remotely full time, and just under half (49%) said they’d prefer a hybrid work format involving on-site and remote work options. One-quarter of respondents said they’d prefer to work in the office full time.
Remote work drawbacks
A portion of the report focuses on concerns respondents have about a fully remote work model. For example, more than one-quarter of respondents (28%) were concerned about “weaker coworker relationships” in a remote-only environment. About one-quarter (26%) said they were concerned about reduced productivity while working from home and one in five cited decreased opportunities for career advancement.
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One-third of respondents said they would look for another position if their employer required them to return to the office. As TechRepublic previously reported, these findings echo the results of a recent survey on Blind, an anonymous network for professionals, in which one-third of respondents said they would quit “if WFH ended.”
Perhaps a deal-sweetener would up the allure for office reentry after months of working remotely. So what would top a return-to-the-office wish list?
According to the Robert Half survey, the top reported item for a Return-to-office wish list included the ability to set preferential work hours, personal office space and expenses for commuting, in order. A “relaxed dress code” ranked fourth, and child care services provided by the employer rounded out the top five.
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“Regardless of timing, companies should take a measured and carefully planned office re-entry approach and keep employees’ health and safety top of mind,” McDonald said. “Leaders should also use the opportunity to solicit staff feedback to shape corporate culture for the future.”