As more employers continue rolling out return-to-office plans, some differences in who is returning, on what days, and how long they spend working are starting to appear. And in some cases, mandates are causing staff to leave in droves.
Here’s a look at the state of the return to office movement, by the numbers:
- 72% of companies have mandated employees return to offices.
- 85% of office workers go into the office at least once a week.
- 42% of companies that have issued RTO mandates have said they’ve lost more staff than they expected to, as a direct result.
- 21% of those requiring workers to return said they lost “key” members of staff.
- Office occupancy has hovered around 50% since January.
- 41% of employed women were likely to do some or all of their work at home than 28% of employed men.
- 77% of Fortune 100 companies offer a hybrid work schedule, 14% don’t require any office visits per week.
What days they’re returning
About 72% of companies have mandated employees return to offices, according to a study from Unispace, which covers 9,500 employers.
Meanwhile, office occupancy has hovered around 50% since January, according to data from Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks badge swipes into offices.
Midweek is most popular for office attendance, with employees far less keen to go in at the start or end of the week. This past week, office occupancy stood at 59% on Tuesday compared to about 33% on Friday, according to Kastle data.
“As hybrid work becomes more common I think we’ll find the days when people work from home become much more distributed across the week, except where companies have all-hands meetings or team meetings on a particular day,” said Josh Bersin, an analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, a research and advisory firm focused on corporate learning, talent management and HR.
Others say it could be tricky for employers to buck this trend though.
“Employee-led flexibility” is proving beneficial for companies tapping into that rather than force-of-hand directives, said Brent Cassell, vp advisory at Gartner. “It’s not about the quantity of the time you spend in the office, versus the quality of time you spend there,” Cassell said.
“Employees should have a degree of control over when they come in, and what they do when they come in,” he said.
Who’s not coming back
Employees have lamented being forced to give up flexible working arrangements, and some are leaving altogether amid RTO mandates.
Unispace’s report found that some 42% of companies that mandated employees return to work said they’d subsequently lost more staff than originally expected.
And 21% of those requiring workers to return said they lost “key” members of their staff.
“Regrettable turnover means losing people you simply can’t afford to lose in your business,” said Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at the University of Manchester.
“There are certain people in your companies that you would think to yourself, ‘If those three people go, we’re going to be in trouble,” Cooper said.
At the same time, women are also appearing less likely to return to offices than men, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Employed women were more likely than employed men to do some or all of their work at home – 41% of women, compared with 28% of men.
Employee frustrations around RTO are centering around companies’ reasoning behind such mandates.
Without clearly explaining the purpose of the office and exactly what kind of collaborative work should get done, “you’re going to feel ill-used,” Cassell said.
“It’s hard to just ‘unwind’ this when there’s no clear business reason to drive in,” Bersin added.