Most workers don't want to be back in the office, could quit over lack of flexibility

midian182

Posts: 7,907   +82
Staff member
Why it matters: Are you one of the many workers who have returned to the office following a lengthy stint working from home during the pandemic? Are you happy about going back? Probably not. A new survey shows that despite what many bosses want you to believe, people prefer working remotely.

Software giant Slack commissioned the Future Forum Pulse survey, which covered 10,000 knowledge workers (those who spend most of their time on a computer) in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.

The survey results show that around 34% of participants have now returned to the office five days per week, and that's led to employee sentiment dropping to near-record lows. There has been a 2x as steep a decline in work-life balance compared to hybrid and remote workers, 1.6x as steep a decline in overall satisfaction with their working environment, and 1.5x worsening work-related stress and anxiety.

"In the US, work-life balance is at an all-time low and work-related stress and anxiety are at an all-time high since the inception of our survey, an abrupt about-face from the previous quarter," the report said.

While many executives like to extoll the virtues of office work, it seems this is a case of 'do as I say, not as I do.' Non-execs are twice as likely to be working in offices than their superiors, meaning their work-life balance scores are 40% worse, and they are twice as likely to suffer anxiety and stress.

"This discrepancy suggests that while many executives continue to work flexibly, for their employees the flexible work options that provided much-needed balance and relief have been clawed back," the research states.

Worker unhappiness could have an impact on their employers beyond reduced productivity. With 55% saying they would prefer flexible working hours at least part of the time, one in five say they are likely to look for a new job if their company doesn't allow some flexibility. Additionally, knowledge workers who say their employer is not being "transparent about their future-of-work plans" are more than three times as likely to quit this year.

In September, a Microsoft study claimed that working from home threatens productivity and innovation. There was also a survey in January showing many people were so desperate to keep working remotely that they were willing to lose large parts of their salaries and even benefits such as health insurance and paid time off.

Masthead credit: Christina Morillo

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m4a4

Posts: 2,894   +3,704
TechSpot Elite
And with transportation prices going up, it's even less desirable to waste time commuting to work if you can effectively work remotely.

Luckily, my employer saw that we were better off with me working remotely before the pandemic, so nothing changed (or is changing) for me.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
I can totally understand not wanting to be back in the office... even if you believe Covid is "over", the convenience of working from home, the savings in transportation costs (not to mention time) and the ability to still provide care for family members more than makes up for the inability to see colleagues in person... depending upon your colleagues, that might also be a plus!
 

George Keech

Posts: 177   +298
And with transportation prices going up, it's even less desirable to waste time commuting to work if you can effectively work remotely.

Luckily, my employer saw that we were better off with me working remotely before the pandemic, so nothing changed (or is changing) for me.
This may be true but Energy prices in the UK are doubling (or have) meaning that working from home for me now costs me even more than going to the office.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,212   +4,254
Working remote really ends up being about money and how poorly compensated most positions are relative to the economy.

If you paid enough I am sure a lot of office workers would sacrifice 2 to 3 hours of their day just to commute to work and a not insignificant amount on top to have some meals, spending money while out, etc.Capitalists where the ones that worked hard to establish that "Time is money" when it comes to employment and now that virtually all office workers showed that remote work was not only possible, but made them *thrive* and increase productivity and satisfaction level they're not ok with letting people come to small realizations about the power they hold over them once they don't feel like they're constantly watched and harassed by petty tyrants.

So now we *should* demand that part time in-office is the bare minimum and if the job is high demand then full remote should be the standard and I would personally shop around if I'm told "You *have* to come back to office full time"
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
Maybe there is a diminishing returns depending on where you live etc or how you transport.
Certainly... but for those households with dual income earners and 2 cars, it's a no-brainer on the cost of being at home vs in the office. Ditching a car immediately saves THOUSANDS per year... and even if your commute is only 30 minutes, that's a savings of 1 hour per day... not to mention gas, insurance, etc...
 

GoldenGoat

Posts: 46   +35
Many workers proven for 2 years they can work from home without losing productivity.
It's more economical and time-saving.
It's better for global warming.
It's better for worker satisfaction, which leads to less turnover, lowering training costs and gaps in productivity.
It is worse however, for social butterflies who want to socialize instead of work as well as supervisor to go on ego trips.
Some jobs can't be done remotely, but the ones who can, should.
 

Dr Roboto

Posts: 22   +34
I work from home 95% of the time now. For me the benefits are mostly driven by no need to commute to work.

1) Significantly better family life --> Can drive my kids to school, put on / get off the bus, get kids to sports all while having time to help with dinner.

2) Significant savings in gas in wear and tear on my car.

However, one major item that many people are missing is the fact that it is a "chicken or egg" issue still for many of us. Right now even when I go to work most of the offices are empty/closed. I get very little out of going to work to only sit there by myself and then just have zoom meetings in my work office. FYI, I work for a place that employees 6000+ people, so this is not just a small 50 person company. Right now my work from home life is pretty much the same as my office life in terms of actual work, so why would I want to give up all the extra personal time and $$ savings by going to work.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 315   +398
Many workers proven for 2 years they can work from home without losing productivity.
It's more economical and time-saving.
It's better for global warming.
It's better for worker satisfaction, which leads to less turnover, lowering training costs and gaps in productivity.
It is worse however, for social butterflies who want to socialize instead of work as well as supervisor to go on ego trips.
Some jobs can't be done remotely, but the ones who can, should.
Wasn't the case for alot of people I know, including me, covid hit and my former job sent us home to work, they werent ready for it and ended up letting alot of us go.

I'm one of the people who are pro going into work, just feels more stable imo, which is why I found one that needs me on-site.

My short time of working remote from home was truly depressing, waking up, taking a few steps over to a laptop and being locked in your apt feels like some sort of prison, I'd like to know how the people live who love working from home, are they dense city dwellers who are surrounded by lively things to see? people who live in spacious houses?

this is one of those subjects that should be looked at closely for both sides, because a remote work future sounds like some sad dystopia for how things are now.
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 517   +655
Wasn't the case for alot of people I know, including me, covid hit and my former job sent us home to work, they werent ready for it and ended up letting alot of us go.

I'm one of the people who are pro going into work, just feels more stable imo, which is why I found one that needs me on-site.

My short time of working remote from home was truly depressing, waking up, taking a few steps over to a laptop and being locked in your apt feels like some sort of prison, I'd like to know how the people live who love working from home, are they dense city dwellers who are surrounded by lively things to see? people who live in spacious houses?

this is one of those subjects that should be looked at closely for both sides, because a remote work future sounds like some sad dystopia for how things are now.

My experience was the polar opposite, but then I was already used to working with distributed colleagues and online collaborative tools. I advocate for flexible working options. If you want to go to the office, go to the office. If you want to work at home, it should be allowed too. Don't see any reason why it has to be one way or the other.
 

waclark

Posts: 350   +239
Working remote really ends up being about money and how poorly compensated most positions are relative to the economy.

If you paid enough I am sure a lot of office workers would sacrifice 2 to 3 hours of their day just to commute to work and a not insignificant amount on top to have some meals, spending money while out, etc.Capitalists where the ones that worked hard to establish that "Time is money" when it comes to employment and now that virtually all office workers showed that remote work was not only possible, but made them *thrive* and increase productivity and satisfaction level they're not ok with letting people come to small realizations about the power they hold over them once they don't feel like they're constantly watched and harassed by petty tyrants.

So now we *should* demand that part time in-office is the bare minimum and if the job is high demand then full remote should be the standard and I would personally shop around if I'm told "You *have* to come back to office full time"
2-3 hours of commute time is not the norm. In 2019 the Census Bureau said the average commute time was 27.6 minutes. So, an hour a day, not 2-3x. And you can bring your lunch if you want to save money. I know when I worked on the Microsoft campus, they had several good cafeterias on campus where you could get a good meal relatively cheaply and it offered a place to socialize with your co-workers.

I work from home and have since before Covid. That said, there are benefits to going to the office on occasions. I actually miss seeing my customers face-to-face every day. I miss sharing info and ideas with my co-workers. This is how I learned technology like setting up Unix machines, doing assembly language coding and much more.

Working at home is nice if you can manage your time, but many people are distracted by kids, pets, neighbors, laundry and other non-work tasks. In some cases you can be more productive at home, but also consider that WFH employees tend to work more, as much as 10% more when working from home. So, yeah, they're more productive because they work more hours. I don't know that this is such a great thing for everyone.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,706   +6,653
Sponsored by Slack, who markets their software for teleworking.
Much like this article's link to a survey sponsored by M$ (a company that makes its money from sales of operating systems especially to businesses that buy computers for their workers) stating that working from home is less productive. No conflict of interest in that story, either. :rolleyes:

EDIT: Personally, I was more productive working at home. There was less distraction (I'm married, but have no children), and it allowed me to easily do things that I needed to do to take care of myself - such as exercise regularly.

The department head, however, was of the opinion that workers need to be constantly watched in order to ensure they were doing their job. We are back in the office full time and have been since January 21'. I don't mind, in part because the department head transferred to another branch, and he was one of the noisiest people in the office. I do miss, however, being able to simply change and hike in the park near my house. Now, driving home takes 20-minutes, then I'd have to change - another 10-15 minutes and take my 1:15 hike which then becomes 2:15 due to the drive home and changing.
 
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okie11

Posts: 30   +86
It must be nice to have that option to work from home, I worked at the office right thru the pandemic without any interruption. I work in desktop support and unfortunately 90% of my work requires hands on face to face interaction with the end user.
On the other hand I do live only a mile from my office so I don't mind to much.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 315   +398
I hated working from home. I’m glad it’s over. I wouldn’t work for a company that expects me to work from home permanently.
I was a sys admin while I was working from home and it was the worst thing ever, I knew exactly what our internet setup was in the office so it was usually the last thing looked at with user problems,

people working from home though, pure annoyance, one lady didnt even have internet in her home so they ordered a hotspot that was beyond her technical level(aka hitting a button) so every morning was talking her through setup AGAIN, people called me saying they had connection issues....then I'd find out theyre at the beach or lake or driving through a damn desert.

Also, trying to constantly track down people who could be anywhere in the city, country? was just too much, like, why send me some urgent email if youre gonna wander off to lunch for 2hrs or a beach house, leaving me to get yelled at cause that ticket is glowing in the queue?

from the support side, remote work sucks, for all the IT folks doing it I f**kin salute you.
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 517   +655
I hated working from home. I’m glad it’s over. I wouldn’t work for a company that expects me to work from home permanently.

It's not about demanding that folks work remotely, it's about offering the choice to be as flexible as you need. I do about 50/50 and it's fantastic.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
The main reason for many to be in the "office" setting is job productivity. Of the individual (good quality and quantity work output as a result of peer and management pressure) and the group (synergy). I have never seen a group or part of a group "working from home" meet the productivity of a "working at one location" group. The recent experience with Covid has just supported my experience - there is no service company that maintained their group productivity during the pandemic. Banks, insurance companies, health companies - no one.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
Much like this article's link to a survey sponsored by M$ (a company that makes its money from sales of operating systems especially to businesses that buy computers for their workers) stating that working from home is less productive. No conflict of interest in that story, either. :rolleyes:

EDIT: Personally, I was more productive working at home. There was less distraction (I'm married, but have no children), and it allowed me to easily do things that I needed to do to take care of myself - such as exercise regularly.

The department head, however, was of the opinion that workers need to be constantly watched in order to ensure they were doing their job. We are back in the office full time and have been since January 01'. I don't mind, in part because the department head transferred to another branch, and he was one of the noisiest people in the office. I do miss, however, being able to simply change and hike in the park near my house. Now, driving home takes 20-minutes, then I'd have to change - another 10-15 minutes and take my 1:15 hike which then becomes 2:15 due to the drive home and changing.
My experience over 40years shows that remote work is less productive for most people. You may be an exception; however as a manager I cannot make rules for exceptions like you; since the work involved in finding people like you out ways the benefit.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
Working remote really ends up being about money and how poorly compensated most positions are relative to the economy.

If you paid enough I am sure a lot of office workers would sacrifice 2 to 3 hours of their day just to commute to work and a not insignificant amount on top to have some meals, spending money while out, etc.Capitalists where the ones that worked hard to establish that "Time is money" when it comes to employment and now that virtually all office workers showed that remote work was not only possible, but made them *thrive* and increase productivity and satisfaction level they're not ok with letting people come to small realizations about the power they hold over them once they don't feel like they're constantly watched and harassed by petty tyrants.

So now we *should* demand that part time in-office is the bare minimum and if the job is high demand then full remote should be the standard and I would personally shop around if I'm told "You *have* to come back to office full time"
But, of course, you cannot prove there is any increased productivity for the team (organizational structure); though you yourself my feel better and more productive. Now if only all positions were standalone? Seems a pity that humans (unlike computers) are animals that thrive on social activity and wither when they are alone. Yes: paid or not travel time is always a bone of contention in employee/employer relationship. Comes down to economics: I know of many companies that paid some travel time if the "housing" cost was high close to work and the employee could not afford it.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,596   +2,812
TechSpot Elite
This may be true but Energy prices in the UK are doubling (or have) meaning that working from home for me now costs me even more than going to the office.
That can't be true, George. I mean, a certain group of people over here don't even know that all over the world inflation, especially fuel prices, have gone up nearly as much to more than here in the US. Or they know but don't care.

But that group, let's call them trumpanistas, think Biden is responsible......Apparently, for all of it.

Either way of course, it's not so hard to understand that eliminating transportation costs are a huge help.







 
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