The return-to-office (RTO) debate remains a heated topic in workplace policy. Business leaders advocate for a physical presence in the office, while some employees push for greater flexibility to work remotely.

In May, surveyed 756 business leaders — from companies that implemented an RTO mandate since 2021 — to understand how their policy might change in 2025.

Key findings:

  • Half of companies require employees to be in the office 4 to 5 days per week
  • 8 in 10 companies lost talent due to their RTO mandates
  • 70% of companies will increase or maintain the number of days employees are required to be in the office in 2025
  • 93% of business leaders believe employees should be in the office and support RTO mandates
  • 7 in 10 companies provide incentives to encourage workers to RTO

Half of Companies Require Workers To Be In-Office 4 or More Days Per Week

The majority of companies currently require employees to work in person three days per week, with 38% of respondents selecting this option.

Following this, 23% of companies require employees to be in the office five days per week, and 26% require four days per week.

Fewer companies have lower in-office requirements, with 10% requiring two days, 1% requiring one day, and less than 1% requiring less than one day per week. Less than 1% of companies have completely eliminated the requirement for employees to work in person since initially implementing an RTO mandate.

8 in 10 companies lost talent to RTO mandates

Due to their RTO policy, 14% of companies say they lost a lot of talent, 36% report losing some talent, 33% say they lost a little, and only 16% say they lost none.

“Companies are losing talent due to RTO policies for a few reasons,” says Resume Builder’s Resume and Career Strategist Julia Toothacre. “People may have moved and aren’t willing to move again to keep their position. It’s also possible that there are familial responsibilities that require a flexible schedule or the need to be at home. Some people also like working from home or remotely and don’t want to return to an office environment.”

“Work-life balance has become a higher priority for a lot of people and commuting into the office won’t seem worth it for some. I also believe there is a subset of people with their own health complications, and going back into the office isn’t an option for them. Theoretically, these professionals would be covered under discrimination laws.”

7 in 10 Companies Will Maintain or Increase Days Required In-Office in 2025

Despite many companies admitting they lost talent due to their RTO policy, in 2025, 45% of companies do not plan to make changes to their current RTO policy. However, 25% plan to require employees to come in even more, while another 21% say employees won’t have to come in as frequently.

Among the companies that won’t require employees to come in as often, the top reason is to improve employee well-being, with 86% citing this motivation. Additionally, companies say they want to improve retention (73%) and save money on office space (49%).

Of companies planning to reduce their in-office requirements, 52% will definitely (25%) or probably (27%) eliminate their RTO mandate in 2025.

“Companies are largely going to do what is best for them or the bottom line. Many companies own or lease office space, which is costly, and they want to get a return on this. While some will boast that they take care of their employees, their actions tell a different story. The layoffs over the last year are a testament to this,” says Toothacre.

“Older generations like going into the office, and they are the decision-makers in leadership positions. Their tune might change by 2025 if they aren’t getting the talent they want due to return-to-office mandates.”

Productivity tops reasons to increase days required in-office

Of the companies planning to increase the number of days employees are required to be in the office, the top reason is to improve productivity, as indicated by 86% of these companies. This is followed by a desire to improve company culture (71%). Additionally, business leaders say the increase in office days is driven by a desire to improve employee well-being (57%) and retention (55%).

“Unfortunately, I think many business leaders make assumptions about things like productivity, culture, and employee well-being,” says Toothacre. “Productivity is a result of clear expectations and good management. Culture is driven by people, not physical spaces, and employee well-being is more about how people are managed, their stress levels, and the amount of flexibility they have.”

93% of Business Leaders Believe in RTO Mandates

When asked how many days they personally believe employees should be required to work from the office, only 7% of business leaders say employees should choose what’s best for them, while 93% believe employees should be required to be in the office.

More specifically, 25% of business leaders think employees should be in the office five days a week, 29% say four days, 26% say three days, 11% say two days, 2% say one day, and less than 1% believe employees should come in less than once a week.

6 in 10 Companies Don’t Provide Incentives To Encourage Workers to RTO

Currently, 70% of companies are providing workers with incentives to RTO, while 30% are not. The incentives being provided include commuter benefits (73%), raises (68%), catered meals (61%), social events (61%), and child care benefits (61%).

“Companies should absolutely be providing incentives to get employees back into the office, if that’s what they want, especially financial incentives,” says Toothacre. “With the rising cost of living, it’s more economical for professionals to work from home, so any additional financial compensation will help employees feel more comfortable returning to the office.”


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on May 15, 2024. Overall, 756 business leaders (owner / partner, president/CEO/chairperson, C-level executive, director, senior management, HR manager, project manager, and supervisor) completed the survey.

To qualify for the survey, all participants had to be over 25, make over $75,000, work for a company with more than 11 employees, and have an education level above high school.

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