As companies push forward with return-to-office (RTO), employees at businesses such as Google have started to face negative consequences for not complying.

To find out if companies requiring employees to RTO are tracking office attendance and the consequences are for non-compliance, in December, surveyed 800 business leaders at organizations where most of their workforce could, in theory, work remotely.

Key findings:

  • 8 in 10 companies will track employee office attendance in 2024
  • 95% of companies say employees will suffer consequences if they don’t comply
  • Jobs, bonuses, and salaries are at risk for employees who do not comply
  • Productivity leads reasons for companies mandating RTO
  • Most common incentives to get employees to RTO are happy hours, catered meals

80% of Companies Will Track Office Attendance in 2024

Currently, 79% of companies are tracking employee office attendance. The majority are doing this using badge swipes (58%).

Next year, 91% of companies will require that employees go to the office at least once a month, while 75% will require employees to work from the office weekly.

Of companies that will require employees to work from the office at least one day a month, 88% (or 80% of the total sample) will definitely (70%) or probably (18%) track office attendance.

The majority of companies (62%) will use badge swipes to track attendance. Additional ways companies plan to track attendance are manually (50%), Wi-Fi (50%), occupancy sensors (43%), and under desk sensors (38%).

1 in 3 companies will fire employees who don’t comply

Of companies that will track attendance next year, 95% say employees will face consequences if they do not comply.

And 33% say they will fire employees if they do not go into the office when required.

Employees could face additional consequences, including their bonus being impacted (57%), benefits being affected (54%), or a reduction in salary (53%).

Resume Builder’s Resume and Career Strategist Julia Toothacre says this approach may backfire on employers.

“Companies that become too rigid in their policies will end up losing employees in the long term,” says Toothacre. “Yes, there should be consequences for employees who aren’t doing their job, but time in the office isn’t the only way to track performance.”

“Certain positions and employees benefit from a flexible work schedule to complete their work. Forcing employees to go back to the office will negatively impact some people in the same way that some people will love it. You won’t be able to make everyone happy, but flexibility can bridge the gap.”

9 in 10 Companies Will Incentivize Employees to RTO

The reasons companies are mandating employees RTO is because they believe it has a positive impact on productivity (76%), improves culture (63%), and betters employee satisfaction. Additionally, 29% of business leaders say working from the office reduces burnout.

The vast majority (91%) of companies say they will provide incentives to employees for going into the office. These incentives include happy hours (52%), catered meals (46%), and upgraded office space (41%). Fewer employers will offer bigger incentives such as raises (40%) and child care benefits (37%).

“Companies need to provide RTO incentives, but happy hours aren’t it. Compensation is how to get people back to the office. Working from home saves money on food, gas, car maintenance, and clothing and gives people time back in their day without a commute. Catered meals are a good start, but compensation for commuting, child care, pet care, clothing, and such would go much further for people,” says Toothacre.

“It also seems like companies are not taking into consideration why employees like to work from home or have a flexible schedule. Some people are caregivers to family members, they have a physical disability that makes the office uncomfortable, or there are mental health considerations that are improved when they can be in a familiar space, among others. When you force people back into the office, you will likely lose amazing employees who had been thriving in their home environment,” finishes Toothacre.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on December 13, 2023, and 800 respondents completed the full survey.

To qualify for the survey, all participants had to work at a company with at least 11 employees and have one of the following job titles: C-level executive, director, president/CEO/chairperson, owner or partner, senior manager, or HR manager. Respondents also had to have a household income of at least $75,00 and be at least 25 years old.

To avoid bias, Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.