A common realization many people have come to over the past year is that they don’t need to come into the office to get their work done. As a result, some companies are finding it difficult to get workers to return as pandemic guidelines roll back. While some businesses are adapting to this new plea to bypass the cubical, others are staying headstrong that work needs to be done in a centralized location.
Naturally, for many there is a necessity to work onsite, as experienced by about half of global food processing and commodities company ADM’s 38,000 employees that work in manufacturing and operations. “Things really didn’t change for those folks in the sense that we couldn’t send them home because of the nature of their jobs,” explained chief human resources officer Jennifer Weber, “But for the rest of ADM’s workforce, the past 15 months have proven that they could enable productivity remotely.”
Companies like Google, Ford Motor Co., and Citigroup Inc. have experienced a similar situation and are working to provide greater working flexibility moving forward. Others like JPMorgan Chase & Co. have openly spoken against remote work, feeling it diminishes collaboration and company culture. Several surveys have investigated this divide and have discovered that not only do people want to continue working remotely (at least parttime) but they are willing to quit if not given the option.
According to The Morning Consult, out of 1,000 US adults polled in May, 39% said they’d consider quitting if their bosses weren’t flexible about working from home (out of those, 49% millennials and Gen Z). A survey from FlexJobs, which polled 2,100 people that worked remotely during the pandemic, showed that 58% would “absolutely” look for a new job if they couldn’t continue remote work in their current role. Only 2% wanted to work in the office fulltime.
Accenture reported at the end of May that 83% of the people it surveyed felt a hybrid work mode (working remotely between 25% and 75% of the time) is the optimal setup. Finally, Tallo, a talent development platform, surveyed Gen Z and found that 63% are most interested in working in a hybrid setting, 27% want to work in the office fulltime, while only 8% want to work fully remotely. What’s clear is that most workers don’t want to return to a traditional 9 to 5 office setting. A setting developed during the industrial revolution out of labor laws aimed at protecting factory workers and that many argue is outdated.
These surveys found that the two biggest factors driving this hesitancy to return to the office is a lack of commute and the money saved as a result from working at home (at least $5,000 a year for a third of those surveyed). “People value remote work and will need strong encouragement from their employers to come back to brick-and-mortar offices,” says Susan Norton, Senior Director of Human Resources at LiveCareer. “Companies need to offer new benefits that will make their staff want to stay with their companies. Free coffee and fruits won’t be enough to retain top talent.
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