Over the past couple of years, companies have implemented return-to-office (RTO) policies, forcing employees back into the physical workplace. While many have embraced the return, others developed an attachment to working remotely, which remains their preference.

To understand if those who have been forced to RTO plan to stay with their current employer, in February, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 557 workers at companies that went remote during the pandemic but now require employees to be in the office at least one day per week.

Key findings:

  • 18% of workers forced to RTO say they are currently looking for a new job; 36% plan to look this year
  • Wanting a higher salary and better benefits drive reasons for job search; 43% say RTO policy is a factor
  • 60% want to work less than frequently from the office than currently required
  • 24% want to work from the office less than once per week; 17% want to be fully remote

Nearly 1 in 5 Workers Mandated To Return to Office are Currently Job Searching

Of the workers we surveyed, 18% say they are currently looking for a new job, and 36% plan to look for one this year.

Many of those who are currently seeking out a new job are doing so actively. In fact, 11% are applying to more than 10 positions per week, while 28% are applying to six to 10 positions, and 60% are applying to one to five jobs.

4 in 10 job searching due to RTO policy

There are a number of reasons workers are job searching. These reasons include wanting:

  • A higher salary (70%)
  • Better benefits (56%)
  • More growth opportunities (50%)
  • To work a different number of days from the office than what’s currently required (43%)
  • A better company culture (32%)
  • Different responsibilities (27%)

Chief Career Advisor at Resume Builder, Stacie Haller, comments on why workers at companies that have mandated RTO are job searching.

“More than two-thirds of respondents attribute their job search towards seeking higher salaries, shedding light on how returning to the office can effectively translate to a pay reduction for many individuals, especially considering factors such as commuting expenses. The desire for increased compensation, therefore, emerges as a predictable response to this financial consideration.

“It’s abundantly clear that employees are looking for a greater degree of autonomy in determining how and where they work from. Companies that prioritize aligning their practices with the preferences of their workforce are the ones successfully retaining talent. Those that do not are witnessing a surge in turnover rates.

“Employees are increasingly inclined to seek out employers who not only listen to their concerns but also afford them the flexibility to work in a manner that accommodates their individual needs and sustains their engagement levels.”

60% Want To Work From The Office Less Frequently Than Required

Of workers surveyed who are currently required to go in at least once a week, for 8%, the requirement is once a week. Additionally, for 33%, it’s two to three days a week, for 24% it’s three to four days a week, and for 35% it’s five days a week.

For most workers, there is a mismatch between how many days they want to work in the office and how many days they are currently required to.

Those who prefer to be in the office less than once a week (one to three times a month) total 7%. Additionally, 14% say once a week, 17% two days a week, 20% three days a week, and 11% four days a week. Conversely, 15% would prefer to be in the office full-time.

Furthermore, 17% of respondents answered that they would prefer to work fully remotely. The youngest group of workers (18 to 24 year olds) were the least likely to say they would prefer to work remotely (9%), while 35 to 44 and 55 to 64 year olds were the most likely to say they would prefer it (20% and 23% respectively).

Of those who want to work fully remotely, two-thirds (67%) say they would be willing to take a pay cut to do so.

The reasons workers want to work fully remotely include:

  • Better work-life balance (85%)
  • Avoid commute (71%)
  • Save money (64%)
  • More productive (56%)
  • Easier to care for a child (40%)
  • Avoid interacting with co-workers (38%)
  • Simpler to care for a pet (31%)

“It’s evident that blanket RTO policies often prove ineffective, whereas approaches that take into account the needs of teams or individuals tend to foster greater employee satisfaction. Over the past several years, it has become increasingly clear that not everyone thrives or remains productive in the same working environment, underscoring the limitations of one-size-fits-all directives,” says Haller.

“Organizations should work to accommodate the diverse preferences and productivity dynamics of their workforce. As employees discover their optimal work settings, organizations must adapt by embracing flexibility and customization to retain and attract talent effectively.”


This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted in February 2024 via SurveyMonkey. Respondents consisted of a national sample of 557 full-time U.S. workers.

The survey was balanced to reflect the age, gender, and income demographics of full-time U.S. workers.To qualify for the survey, respondents had to answer that they currently work for a company that issued a return-to-office policy in 2021 or later and are required to work from the office at least once per week.

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