As workplaces near the third anniversary of pandemic-related work-from-home orders, employers are continuing attempts to push employees back to in-person offices.
- Major companies like Vanguard Group and Paycom Software are beginning to require employees to move back to the office on at least a hybrid schedule, with some being required to return to the office full-time.
- In some cases, employees have been told that their employment status is in jeopardy if they don’t comply.
- However, employees are pushing back against a complete return to the office. Many prefer the flexibility and improved work-life balance that remote work provides.
- When companies struggled to keep adequate staff, many employers were willing to give in to employee demands, but as the labor market began to tighten somewhat, more employers pushed back.
- Opponents of remote work claim that employees are more productive when in person at the office.
Why it’s news
Since work-from-home orders were lifted in 2021 and Covid vaccines made employees more willing to return to the office, employers have been pushing for a full return. However, even with vaccines available and other Covid measures lifted, employees have been holding tightly to remote work. Many prefer working from home because it creates a better work-life balance, removes commute time, and allows employees to work from anywhere.
In the last two years, companies have tried to convince employees to return, only to be met with Covid variants that pushed back return dates and employees who simply preferred to work from home.
In early 2022, security company Kastle Systems estimated that office occupancy was around 23% by tracking employee entries into key-card systems. By April, that number was up to 43%, Fortune reports. Since then, occupancy has hardly budged.
Around Labor Day, companies, including Apple, Peloton, and Comcast, attempted to force workers back. Occupancy levels ticked to 47%.
Vanguard and Paycom’s moves to push workers back to the office signals that companies aren’t ready to give in to employee demands. The work-from-home battle will continue in 2023.
Backing up a bit
Since the pandemic, remote work has grown more popular with employees, and the new work arrangement is turning out to be remarkably productive.
With fewer workers coming into the office, some managers worried that employees weren’t working as hard, but a new study from University of Texas professor Andrew Brodsky tells a different story.
Findings from Brodsky’s study show that workers are becoming more engaged and more productive with the freedom to work remotely. Other studies show that remote work may even prompt employees to work for extended periods due to lack of commute.