In 2020, global lockdowns challenged the on-site model. Working from home has since then been the new trend and has become a norm for many workers. But time has gone by, and since 2022, companies have requested more in-person presence again.
So, what can we learn from the return to office statistics, and expect for 2024 in particular? What causes the vast majority of firms to require their workforce back in the office? How can you implement an RTO mandate without impacting employee satisfaction?
This article clearly explains what is at stake between employers and employees based on the latest numbers. You will also learn how working habits are evolving, including the crucial need for some organizations to create a more flexible and agile environment to adapt to workers’aspirations.
The Great Return is happening, but maybe not as businesses expected it. Let’s dig more into this hot topic to see how you can navigate this period while keeping your staff happy and satisfied!
Why are most companies implementing RTO policies?
A fully remote model impacts collaboration and corporate culture
After 2020, companies went through the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle. Post-COVID years have proved that employees were willing to change their working habits. The tendency was to opt for a fully remote model or at least being home a few days a week.
However, 68% of executives think people should be on-site, three days a week minimum. One of the main reasons is to keep a distinctive company culture. 65% judge office attendance as “very important” to increase worker productivity, and over 50% consider it essential for employee collaboration.1
Moreover, from an employee point of view, fully remote practices can lead to feelings of isolation, decreased interactions, and a lack of colleague stimulation. It can be more difficult for them to get this feeling of belonging and the workplace connection they need to thrive.
RTO mandates increase revenue
There is also a financial reason why you might want your staff on-site more often.
In a survey led by Resume Builder, 72% of the companies have noticed increased revenue when a return-to-office policy has been set. This doesn’t mean staff necessarily have to be present daily, though. 38% of workers want full autonomy over their schedule2. For instance, employees can come back on-site, two or three days per week, for in-person meetings with clients. According to a poll by JLL3, “Workers continue to find value in the physical office as a hub for socialization, innovation, and professional growth.”
Working face-to-face allows team members to be more effective when collaborating. Ideas might pop up faster, leading to innovative solutions. All of these benefits of being on-site create new business opportunities, thus improving revenue. This is one of the main reasons why 51% of employers want to set a return-to-office policy in 2024.4
Hybrid work models boost employee productivity
The flexible work model is expected to continue growing.5 As a reference point, 42% of companies allowed hybrid schedules in 2021 compared to 81% in 2024. This is why it is crucial to remember that many staff members expect to be allowed to keep some flexibility in their schedules when implementing RTO mandates. Actually, 48% of American employees will look for a remote work position for their next job.2
But what are the numbers really revealing?
50% of companies have set an RTO policy since 2022.6 However, making it mandatory for employees to come on-site every day is risky as workers may feel forced and end up resigning. They like coming to the office for a purpose and going back home with tasks to complete. This way of working increases trust and boosts employee productivity. With a hybrid work policy, everyone can get the best of both models and fulfill their needs.
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What are the return to office statistics predicting for 2024?
Almost all companies plan to implement an RTO policy by the end of 2024
90% of companies with office space will have returned on-site by the end of 2024, and the majority currently track or will track team members to ensure in-person attendance.4 In other words, most organizations are trying to bring back their employees to the office.
ResumeBuilder.com’s chief career advisor, Stacie Haller, says, “90% of employers intend to enforce RTO mandates in 2024, that figure includes the 51% that have already done so—and doesn’t necessarily apply to every staff member, every day.” This statement is highly valuable as there are indeed different ways to get employees back in the office.
It can vary from one firm to another according to its size, vision, and values. It also depends on the benefits they provide to their teams to encourage them to come on-site. For example, the Resume Builder’s survey reveals that among business leaders:
72% will offer commuter benefits;
57% will offer childcare benefits;
64% will provide catered meals.
But 28% say their company will threaten to fire employees, which may cause tension among teams.
WFH remains a powerful aspect of retaining talent in 2024
Staff don’t really fancy being forced to come back to a five-day model. Only about 3% of people wish to be full-time at the office, and 86% of employees want to work from home at least twice a week (or a third workplace).7
As a company, you must adapt and let them have freedom of choice. Otherwise, you might see your best talent leave. The more rigid you are, the more likely you are to lose your employees or their valuable input if they start to quiet quit. They must be loyal to their team, and one way to ensure this is by offering flexible work arrangements.
Although a new trend, the Big Stay, is emerging, people still expect flexibility at work. If you want to benefit from this trend, you must adapt to their expectations. Remember, for today’s workforce, especially Millennials and Gen Z, advantages don’t necessarily come in the form of b higher salaries. People tend to remain by your side if they can have some flexibility in their working schedule.
RTO mandates must adjust to the new ways of working
Returning to the office requires adjustments in the companies’ work policies. As an organization, you can’t ignore that an RTO mandate brings up new concerns for your team. According to a survey by Flexjobs:
43% of employees worry about not being able to enjoy any more flexible hours and how it would impact their work-life balance.
34% are worried about office politics.
27% of workers are worried about the change in their daily routine.
26% worry about being far away from their families and pets.
15% of workers are worried about taking care of their children.
Companies must take this into account to keep their staff satisfied and motivated. Moreover, they need innovative and enhanced office layouts. Businesses must adapt to the new ways of working by readjusting their environment to the recent trends. For example, people wish for more collaborative areas to exchange ideas and elaborate on fresh projects. All of this must remain agile and flexible so it can be modified regularly.
👉 Read our article about the office of the future to create a thriving work environment for your teams!
Why is returning to the office only a few days a week the best option?
Hybrid work balances the pros and cons of both work models
Surveys show that an ‘all-or-nothing’ strategy is not the best approach to get your staff back on-site in a positive and successful manner. According to McKinsey 8, 50% of the time should be spent at the office, in other words, 2 to 3 days.
For instance, team stimulation is an asset of on-site work. Employees experience a sense of belonging and a connection to the workplace and their jobs. They can share time and space with their teammates. But they also sometimes feel restricted by a rigid schedule or environment.
On the other hand, working from home boosts performance and renews creativity. It is also less stressful and time-consuming as people don’t have to commute, leading to greater happiness and productivity. On one condition, though, they do not face isolation and are fully included in decision-making and processes.
Overall, hybrid work is the best model to balance the pros and cons of both worlds. Unsurprisingly, 77% of Fortune 100 companies like Walmart, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, Ford Motors, and Dell Technologies operate under a hybrid working model!9
Flexible work arrangements help make the most of the Big Stay while avoiding quiet quitting
The Big Stay is expected to be a major trend in 2024. Only 34% of workers plan to leave their jobs in the forthcoming months11, compared to 65% in 2021. However, current positions have to be adapted to your workforce’s new needs to keep them engaged and avoid quiet quitting. This means you have to provide more flexibility. You must also take into account staff well-being and offer skill development.
Efforts must be made to not only retain team members but also to prevent disengagement. For example, implementing AI in the workplace can help simplify the whole experience. Workers have time for more purposeful tasks. It is very important that you keep your staff engaged and stay focused on their needs and aspirations. As we always say, your employees are the backbone of your business, and their well-being must remain a priority.
If there is one number to remember among the return-to-office statistics, it is that 90% of companies will implement some RTO policy by the end of 2024. In-person collaboration helps build workplace connection and strengthen corporate culture. It also increases revenue through socialization, innovation, and professional growth. However, trying to implement a fully on-site model is obsolete. Almost 50% of employees wish for a remote job. A hybrid schedule combines the best of both worlds, boosting satisfaction and productivity.
In 2024, companies must consider that people will come back on-site only if they get some autonomy in selecting working locations, days, or even hours they are present. Employers need to concentrate on these aspects to ensure they don’t lose their talent and can keep developing.
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