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Published: Apr 08, 2022 3 min read
Photo of a busy office with multiple employees working from their desks
Money; Shutterstock

Most managers say employees have been just as productive working at home than they were at the office, if not more. But they still want workers back at their desks.

Of 3,500 managers surveyed in March by background check firm GoodHire, 73% said work-from-home productivity and engagement had either stayed the same or improved compared to in-office work. Despite that fact, 75% of managers said they preferred some type of in-person work, and 60% believe that a full-time return-to-office mandate is coming soon.

Critically, a significant majority of managers appear willing to enforce that mandate: 77% said they’d implement “severe consequences” for workers who refuse to return to the office. The possible punishments include firings and pay cuts, as well as losses of promotion opportunities, benefits and paid time off.

“The survey results emphasize the disconnect between how managers feel about managing remote workers, and the productivity their teams are maintaining in remote work settings,” Max Wesman, GoodHire’s Chief Operating Officer, said in a news release. “Clearly, managers are struggling.”

Employees don’t want to work full-time at the office

Data reliably shows that most employees who have been working remotely do not want to return to their offices on a full-time basis.

Most workers prefer a happy medium between full-time remote work and five days per week in the office. Survey results from Gallup show that roughly 60% of employees with jobs that can be done remotely prefer a hybrid work schedule. If offered the option for a partial remote schedule, 38% of people said they would want to work from their offices two or three days per week — the most popular choice. The second-most popular answer was fewer than two days per week in the office, which was listed as the preference of 29% of survey respondents.

A survey conducted by consulting firm Robert Half found that 50% of remote workers said they would look for a new, remote-friendly job if their employer required them to return to the office full-time.

"Employers may be holding onto the idea that the office is the best place to collaborate, innovate and get things done — but workers feel otherwise," Paul McDonald, senior executive director at the consulting firm Robert Half, said in a statement accompanying the survey results.

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