Remote Workers Hesitant To Return To Office But Incentives May Help

Many employees who began working remotely during the pandemic are in no hurry to return to the office. Nearly 7 in 10 would rather look for a new job than go back, a new survey from Clarify Capital finds

“Before the pandemic forced many Americans to switch from their workplaces to their homes, most office workers were used to getting dressed, commuting and buying lunch every weekday,” the survey report says. “But now that they’ve tasted a better life, they don’t want to go back to the way things were.”

Sixty-eight percent of respondents, including 79% of Gen Z remote workers, say they would look for a new job before returning to the office. Twenty-seven percent say they would rather negotiate a higher salary, and only 5% would be okay with returning without a salary negotiation.

Commuting to work is the biggest annoyance that 45% of remote workers surveyed say they are reluctant to return to. Nearly as many say they would be just as troubled by getting home later and waking up earlier. Business and information technology employees are most likely to name waking up earlier as the biggest annoyance of returning to the office. The commute is what most irritated employees in education, finance, insurance and health services.

The survey asked what incentives might lure workers back to the office. Many named flexible working hours (34%), and nearly as many were interested in a four-day workweek (30%). This change was especially attractive to people working in finance or insurance (34%).

Rather than schedule adjustments, one-third of remote workers prefer the prospect of private office space, and just as many want weekly happy hours. Health-service workers are most likely to choose the happy hour perk, while personal office space was the most common goal among people in education, business and IT.

“Workers are in no rush to get back to the in-person workplace, but there might be ways for managers to incentivize it,” the report concludes. “Many employees wouldn’t turn their noses up at a pay raise, but others might simply want more flexibility built into their schedules. Those who have gotten used to the peace and quiet of working from home might appreciate more personal space at work, while those who have felt isolated from their coworkers could use some scheduled time during work hours to socialize.

“However, these preferences vary, so managers may want to reach out to their employees and find out what they’ll need in order to return to the office.”


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