The issue of RTO (return to office) continues to be contentious. While some studies have found that employees feel more productive and effective in-office, many companies are continuing to receive pushback from employees who would prefer to work remotely, and some employers are regretting their push to RTO too soon.
In order to find out what companies’ plans are for RTO looking ahead to 2024, in August, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,000 company decision makers.
- 9 in 10 companies with office space will have returned to office by 2024
- Majority currently track or will track employees to ensure in-person attendance
- 72% say RTO has improved revenue
- 28% say their company will threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with mandates
9 in 10 Companies Will RTO By 2024
Many businesses gave up their physical office spaces during the pandemic, but the vast majority plan to have them moving forward.
Sixty-four percent of respondents say their company currently has a physical workspace, 20% plan to by the end of 2024, 11% plan to in 2025 or later, and just 4% never plan to have a physical workspace.
When we asked companies that currently have or plan to have office space by next year about their current or future RTO plans, only 2% of respondents say their company never plans to require employees to work in-person. Fifty-one percent currently require some or all employees to work in-person, 39% plan to by the end of 2024, and 8% plan to by 2025 or later.
“As a business owner, I’ve navigated the decision to require employees to return to in-person work,” says Onur Kutlubay, founder of YouParcel. “We initiated a partial return, focusing on roles that benefited from on-site collaboration.
“The results were mixed – some employees welcomed the change, citing improved communication, while others expressed concerns about commuting and work-life balance.
In our case, about 40% of employees were required to work in person, mainly those involved in product development and client interactions,” Kutlubay explains.
3 in 4 Say RTO Has Improved Revenue
Among respondents whose companies have already returned to office, 31% say they started requiring workers to come back in 2021, 41% in 2022, and 27% in 2023. The vast majority of respondents in this group say they have seen an improvement in revenue, productivity, worker retention, and more.
Majority of Companies Will Track if Employees Are In-Office
Google faced backlash recently when it rolled out a new policy that tracks employee badges to ensure they are working in-person. It appears that the majority of companies plan to do the same.
Eighty-three percent of respondents whose companies have returned to office say they currently track employee attendance, and 70% of respondents whose companies plan to RTO in 2024 say they will also track employee attendance.
“It’s important to note that, when it comes to RTO, one size does not fit all,” says Chief Career Advisor, Stacie Haller. “The majority of business leaders who plan to RTO in 2024 seem to understand that, in order to retain talent, they can’t force unwilling employees back to the office.
“The end of 2024 is still a long way away, and the job market is constantly changing. It remains to be seen if businesses will follow through on their RTO plans, especially when taking into account the recent backlash against major employers who have forced employees back to office,” she continues.
RTO May Have Peaked as Companies Favor Hybrid Schedule Moving Forward
Of those currently requiring workers in-office, 71% say at least three-quarters of employees are required to work in-person, and 36% say employees are required to come in 5 days per week.
However, among respondents whose companies plan to implement RTO in 2024, only 44% say at least three-quarters of employees will be required to work in-person, and just 19% say 5 days per week will be required.
“We established a flexible schedule, with in-person work three days a week,” continues Kutlubay. “This approach struck a balance, allowing remote work for tasks that could be done independently and fostering collaboration during on-site days.
“The decision to require in-person work was carefully evaluated based on job roles, team dynamics, and operational needs. We learned that maintaining open communication and addressing concerns transparently were vital to successful implementation. While remote work offers flexibility, specific roles thrive with in-person interactions, and this is vital for creativity and innovation,” Kutlubay says.
28% Will Threaten to Fire Employees for Not Complying with RTO
Company leaders predict that returning to office in 2024 will improve the company in a variety of ways. Eighty-one percent say it will improve revenue, 81% also believe it will improve company culture, and 83% say it will improve worker productivity.
In order to encourage employees to return to in-person work, 72% of business leaders say the company will offer commuter benefits, 57% will offer childcare benefits, and 64% will provide catered meals. Additionally, 28% say their company will threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with RTO policy.
“Companies can threaten to fire employees over RTO policy, but they should keep in mind that this is still a very strong candidate market in many industries,” advises Haller. “Companies who insist on RTO when employees are resistant may lose workers and struggle to hire talent from a smaller candidate pool,” she explains.
This online poll was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted via Pollfish from August 17 – August 19, 2023. Respondents consist of a national sample of 1,000 office workers who are age 25 or older, employed for wages (90% quota) or self-employed (10% quota), have a household income of at least $75,000 per year, and work at a company with 11 or more employees.
Respondents also identified their job role as a C-level executive, president/CEO/chairperson, director, owner or partner, CTO, CFO, HR manager, or senior management. All respondents were screened to ensure the company work policy pre-pandemic was either in-person or hybrid, and the policy during the height of the pandemic was remote.