A new trend has emerged in workplaces around the world.

Large tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are demanding a return to the office. Citigroup, American Express, and Goldman Sachs are other companies asking employees to return to the office.


The problem is that employees already prefer their remote working arrangements, so they are reluctant to return to the office. Many Apple workforce even wrote letters to revolt. Their letter, which was addressed to higher management, expressed annoyance with the new policy and claimed that it had caused some staff to resign.


How can businesses manage this conflict and create a return-to-office plan that benefits all staff members? This piece contains all that corporate executives need to understand to traverse this new phase of work and make the transition back to the office a smooth one for all employees.

Why Employees Don’t Want to Return to the Office

The way office employees operate today differs from before the pandemic. The tools that allowed and enabled many to work remotely—like video conferencing, chat platforms, and collaborative software—have accompanied them back to the workplace. It has been a challenging and immediate transition to working from home, but the first difficulties brought new benefits to them.

Now, more employees are asking themselves, “Why return to the office?” Most of them are yet to find a suitable answer to this question.

    ➡️ The reality that many meetings are still done online has hit employees returning to the office, making the necessity of being physically present feel redundant.

    ➡️ 67% of those who worked remotely during the epidemic thought that doing so increased their productivity compared to working in an office. This is partly because they experienced fewer distractions from noisy environments and chatty coworkers. So, they see no need to go into the workplace if they can be just as productive—if not more—at home.

    ➡️ Employees refusing to return to office is also connected to the issue of cost. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, working from home instead of going into the office every day saves an employee an average of $4500 and 408 hours per year.

    ➡️ Employees are now used to the freedom, flexibility, and control that comes with remote work. These employees are not ready to relinquish the sense of power they have just acquired over their life. Also, having settled into the pandemic way of work, employees are dreading the burnout and work/life disruption that’ll come with returning to the office.

    ➡️ The new quiet quitting trend may also have something to do with this. An employee who is quitting will only perform activities explicitly stated in their job description. They want to create clear boundaries and perform the absolute bare minimum to avoid working long hours and achieve work-life balance. Quiet quitting could be an indication of burnout or dissatisfaction with one’s job. Employees who are burnt out may choose to do only little to reduce their stress. It might also imply that they are prepared to shift jobs or that they are hunting for new employment.


    Is Hybrid/Remote Work Here to Stay?

    Millions of employees have recently left their workplace in search of either more income, better benefits, or more control over their daily lives. Remote-first tech companies that have made the decision to offer flexible schedules are only reflecting the current state of the labor market.

    But is this remote work bubble about to burst soon?

    We don’t think so.

    Data from 50,000 of the biggest firms in the US and Canada show that remote work is here to stay. A quarter (24%) of all professional roles in the US and Canada are now permanent remote tasks, according to this Q1 2022 Quarterly Remote Work Report. The number of roles being offered as non-office based has increased significantly even from the final quarter of 2021.


    Besides, businesses that don’t make an effort to accommodate employees’ preferred work schedules are doing so at their own cost. These organizations will suffer as long as there are choices for this workforce. Employees are ready to quit in favor of other businesses in the same industry providing flexible, fully remote workplaces.


    Thankfully, remote work has many faces. Some workplaces are remote-friendly, some are remote-first and others are hybrid. All these are choices that companies can explore.

    Read also How to stay mindful in hybrid workplaces.

    • Remote-friendly Vs Remote-first Work

    Remote-first and remote-friendly workplaces are not interchangeable terms. A remote-first company assures that employees work entirely outside of the corporate office, as opposed to a remote-friendly company that permits employees to do so occasionally.


    A remote-first business is designed from the ground up with home office flexibility in mind. The company is frequently founded with procedures and systems designed to accommodate employees who are dispersed throughout the world.

    • The Hybrid Work Model and Why it Isn’t Working 

    A hybrid workplace combines elements of both in-office and remote work. This type of arrangement gives employees more flexibility than a strictly office-only workplace. This frequently leads to higher levels of engagement, especially when work-life balance is respected.

    With employers demanding that workers return to the office and employees revolting in favor of remote working, the hybrid setup will be a good meeting point for both parties. As advantageous as this set-up is, however, the hybrid work arrangement can pose plenty of challenges, especially if not adjusted properly to the worker’s life.  Work fatigue and burnout will be inevitable if habits and environments aren’t created to promote a work/life balance.


    So, how should employers go about this?

    Keep a close eye on how the workforce is juggling with work and life, and urge them to mindfully manage and maintain these boundaries by taking time off from the office.

    When working across time zones, be clear about the working hours and the project management process.

    Don’t just lead task- and action-focused meetings, also speak with each team member individually to understand how they are feeling.

    You can even take this further by bringing in a corporate wellness expert to help improve the workplace wellness of your employees. Contact us at Balance & Core to book a consultation session and take your company’s wellness to the next level.

    Give employees some space and trust them to get the job done.

    Returning to the Office: The Wellbeing-Friendly Way

    Even with claims of executing safety regulations, it is not reasonable to anticipate or demand that employees are eager to return to the workplace.

    If it isn’t already abundantly evident, we all recently underwent exponential trauma, and trauma doesn’t just go away.



    How effective do you believe people will be if they don’t have a balanced, healthy mind, body, and spirit?

    If you don’t put wellness in the workplace first, how much do you think any of your employees will care about your bottom line?

    This is a critical time for leaders to reflect, adapt and create an inclusive workplace where employees are healthier, more motivated, and content. To know how to get employees excited about returning to the office, it is crucial to understand your employees’ assumptions, and goals, and consider alternative leadership styles 

    Here are some suggestions for welcoming your staff back to the office in a healthy and considerate manner:

    ➡️ Define Your Why

    According to a Microsoft survey, 38% of hybrid employees find that the biggest challenge in navigating work within the past few months has been not having a clear understanding of when and why it’s necessary to come into the office. Only 28% of leaders have defined these parameters in their remote work plans, leaving many employees feeling lost and uncertain. 

    It’s important for companies to have a clear plan of what they hope to achieve by bringing employees back into the office. Employees need to understand the company’s ‘why’ and be kept in the loop about why this decision matters, both for the company and for them. What is the role of the office? How can your company be most effective? Asking – and answering – these tough questions is a crucial first step.

    ➡️ Organize Ergonomic Training and Well-being Seminars

    Whether you’re switching to a hybrid model or working in the office full-time, it’s crucial to review your workplace ergonomics through training. Re-educate your team on how to adjust workstations, seats, and monitors. In many circumstances, people who have grown accustomed to a subpar equipment setup at home will need to be taught the right setting to function well.

    ➡️ Prioritize work/ life balance and workplace wellness

    If your company’s operational plan does not prioritize employee health and happiness, you will undoubtedly lose the trust of your staff. Wellness needs to be a pillar of your internal communications, whether that entails inviting practitioners to educate your teams on how to meditate or simply encouraging staff to draw boundaries between work and personal time. It is crucial to integrate wellness into the company’s way of life in addition to providing access to tools that support it.

    ➡️ Invest in Team Building and team (re)connection

    One of the worries that workers have about returning to the workplace is that they’ll feel alienated among colleagues having been out of the office for a long time. As a leader, it’s your job to make it possible for everyone to reconnect with one another in a meaningful way. If there are any worries, providing support for how people return will go a long way toward assuaging such fears. In other words, it shouldn’t just be business when you ask people to come back to work. Have some compassion.

    ➡️ Provide Support When Needed

    As a manager, you need to understand that employees have limitations.

    And most of the time, they need your support and corporation to function maximally. Workforce is under a great deal of stress both at home and at work. So, support and improve employee experience by helping them to prioritize self-care, including getting enough sleep, drinking water, and exercising.

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