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The Return to Office Panic

The Return to Office Panic

A recent survey by Harvard Business School indicates just how reluctant Americans are to return to work. More than 8 in 10 respondents did not want to go back to the office or preferred a hybrid schedule going forward. Over a quarter hoped to work remotely full-time.1

If office workers are required to return to the office, nearly three-quarters are hesitant to going back unless everyone is fully vaccinated.2

Employers may want to heed workers’ concerns since 95% of workers indicated that they are considering changing jobs, according to a recent survey.3

Employee Perspective

There are many reasons that individuals may welcome a return to the office. Chief among them are in-person workplace conversations, face-to-face meetings, greater structure to the day, socialization with co-workers, and the absence of work interruptions from children and spouses.

But, employers will need to be sensitive to the concerns that keep workers from fully embracing the return to the office. They go well beyond the health considerations.

Perhaps the biggest revelation from working at home was the amount of time individuals were gifted by not having to spend one to two hours every day commuting and doing the full morning grooming routine. All that lost time was recycled for more productive and meaningful purposes, and that will be hard to surrender.

Working from home also eliminated multiple sources of daily stress, such as driving, traffic jams, making the train on time, juggling getting the kids to school and to a morning meeting, dealing with bad weather, etc.

Finally, with a home-based working location, it became far easier to attend to the demands of a personal life, such as making a doctor’s appointment, running quick errands and getting to a child’s event on time.

Employer Response

Employers that fail to adopt an empathetic approach to these concerns may find themselves at a disadvantage. That same survey that found 95% of workers are considering a job change also found that 92% would be willing to switch industries for the right position.4

In this post-pandemic re-entry, employers are facing maximum danger of labor turnover arising from employees who have experienced a new way of working and are hesitant to automatically return to old habits.

Employers that find ways to accommodate workers’ needs and concerns will not only be able to retain great employees, but they can use their enlightened approach as a recruitment tool to gain fresh talent from less responsive organizations.



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