5 Reasons to Hit the Breaks on Returning-to-Office Requirements

2020 brought a sea change to business as usual as the American workforce—and global enterprise—went fully remote. Remote work has become the new normal. There have been some perks for employers, too, saving on business maintenance, upkeep, and travel expenses. About 64% of employees currently work remotely, with more than half fully remote. The workforce has been quickly evolving, with Baby Boomers continuing to retire in droves and millennials making up more than 75% of the workforce. Working styles and expectations are changing amidst the stunning backdrop of the Great Resignation. Now, there are five million more job openings in America than unemployed people—let alone people qualified to fill those positions.

So, before you throw caution to the wind and roll out those return-to-office requirements, read on for five big reasons to reconsider:

1. Don’t be a productivity killer.

First, realize it or not, the new work-from-home routine is doing great things for your organizational output. A whopping 77% of professionals surveyed reported higher productivity while working remotely. The days of watercooler talk are gone, and besides, your employees have Slack channels and Teams groups for that. Because with a robust array of collaboration tools and virtual events in full swing, it’s undeniable that working from home can still support a robust working culture built on teamwork and engagement. Some professionals reported speaking to and collaborating face-to-face (Zooming) with more colleagues than they did in the office.

Don’t hurt your bottom line.

Almost 70% of large companies planned to downsize their office space last year, and the reasoning is obvious. Facility maintenance is expensive, and having a larger office means more rent, more utilities, and more expenses across the board. Do the math. Assess what a smaller hybrid-environment with hoteling options for employees who want to pop into the office routinely would look like for your business.

Don’t grow your carbon footprint.

Whatever industry you’re in, millennials are or will soon account for most of your consumer base. Over the last few years, an overwhelming majority—or to be exact—85% of all consumers have become greener in their shopping habits. A third of millennials will choose more sustainable brands over their competitors. B2C companies can bring in more business if they show how they’re working to slim down their carbon footprints.

Minimizing work travel and reducing office space and the need to commute goes a long way. Working remotely promotes a more digital work experience without unnecessary printouts and other office waste. More B2B and government organizations are looking to boast sustainable practices for their vendors of choice. So, you can increase customers while making and saving more money—and the planet by keeping WFH in place and downsizing or removing office space altogether.

Don’t limit your talent options.

Until just recently, job applicants who lived more than five miles away from a physical office received a third fewer callbacks, according to the Harvard Business Review. You read that right, just over five miles. With a fully remote workforce, larger and smaller, more localized organizations can tap into a national talent market—a major plus with the talent shortage expected to increase.

Don’t be that company.

While there has been record turnover recently, employees are even more likely to call it quits if they’re required to return to the office. According to Joblist, 45% of current remote workers plan on quitting their jobs if their employer requires full-time in-person work. Another 24% are considering quitting if that happens.

Most professionals enjoy the flexibility of working from home. Throw the rising gas prices in the mix—breaking $6 a gallon in some states—workers commuting will have more reasons to find a WFH role if you bring them back to the office. Butts in seats aren’t a measure of business clout or success, and the truth is if you require employees to work onsite, you’re giving your competitors a heavy advantage at stealing your talent away. Some employers are using those market trends and reports on companies returning onsite to poach top talent with more flexible, remote roles.

Ready to discuss what to do instead?

The American work culture and best practices for hiring and retaining members of it are changing irreversibly. At Staffing Strong, our talent experts are fluent in the current talent market challenges and playing them to your business advantage. Let’s connect to discuss your hiring goals.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s been dedicated to supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. Evelyn sits on various advisory boards in her free time and enjoys practicing on her drum set!