Returning to the office is not about productivity

A recent survey of business leaders by ResumeBuilder found 66% of employers currently require employees to work from the office, and 90% of companies will require employees to return to the office at least a few days a week in 2023.

Answers also indicate employees currently working on a hybrid schedule will be asked to come in more frequently within the next six months.

But companies are losing the argument that in-person work makes employees more productive.

“Every single survey that has come out across the board says remote workers are more productive. There is not one shred of evidence out there that working remote reduces productivity,” said career strategist and job search coach Stacie Haller.

Many managers don’t like remote working schedules because they believe it makes their job more difficult.

“Microsoft researchers say there is a ‘productivity paranoia’ among managers. I believe that is true, because managers have no idea how to manage a remote workforce. It is so different in person when they can actually see people,” Haller said.

“That’s the way managers are used to running their teams. Now they don’t know what to do. I think there is a lack of training. The workforce has changed.”

Haller said, with evidence, that productivity is not being harmed, but boosted by remote work. And companies are trying to figure out how to ‘market’ coming back to the office to employees.

“Now CEOs are talking about coming back for collaboration, coming back to be seen for your future career growth. So the talk track has changed,” Haller said.

The same ResumeBuilder survey found 96% of employers said there are benefits to having the staff in office.

Even with remote resistance, 74% of companies still plan to hire remote workers in the future, knowing this remains a candidate-driven job market, and remote work is a priority for many job seekers.

Aside from just announcing a return to the office will be required, companies are offering incentives as well — among them: catered meals, commuter benefits and more casual dress codes.

Management resistance to remote working teams may also be generational.

“Younger managers who are growing up in this ‘new world,’ as they become managers, will not have these issues. I do think it is generational,” Haller said.

ResumeBuilder said its data derives from a survey of 1,000 American business leaders, conducted by Pollfish, an online survey platform.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up