Return-to-Workplace Uptick Closely Tied to Use of Hybrid Schedules

September 21, 2022
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​More workers are coming back to the workplace. The Wall Street Journal reports that the return rate in major cities is the highest it's been—nearly half of pre-pandemic levels—since the public health crisis forced most businesses to close their brick-and-mortar locations in 2020.

The increase appears to be tied to new hybrid work schedules.

"Employees with the ability to work remotely are largely anticipating a hybrid office environment going forward—one that allows them to spend part of their week working remotely and part in the office," Gallup reported. It's clear, the Washington, D.C.-based analytics company added, that "we're not returning to the same workplace we left." Workers have gotten used to the flexibility that working from home affords them. 

The number of people working primarily from home tripled between 2019 and 2021—from about 9 million to 26.6 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's newly released 2021 American Community Survey. The data, released Sept. 15, is based on 2021 one-year estimates.

Atlanta; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C., lead other locations when it comes to a work-from-home lifestyle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only about 10 percent of workers in Memphis, Tenn.; El Paso, Texas; and Wichita, Kan., perform their jobs from home.

The Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), a global management and workplace consultancy based in London, found that organizations with policies allowing for hybrid work have a higher attendance rate than those that do not.

"However, for those with hybrid working policies, attendance is far lower than expected, and at best 42 percent," according to the AWA. It collected data in June and July 2022 from nearly 80,000 employees from 28 organizations across 13 sectors and 13 countries to create its Hybrid Working Index.

Company location may play a part, too. The New York Times reports that most workers in small and midsize U.S. cities have returned to their work commute.

SHRM Online collected the following articles on how employers are faring in getting remote employees back onsite. 

U.S. Return-to-Office Rates Hit Pandemic High as More Employers Get Tougher

Workers are returning to U.S. offices at the highest rate since the pandemic forced most workplaces to temporarily close in 2020, as cases of COVID-19 continue to fall and more companies intensify efforts to bring employees back to office facilities.

The higher return rate in September contrasts sharply with the post-Labor Day return a year ago, when businesses dialed back office-return plans because of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Most employees are returning as part of hybrid workplace strategies. Some businesses are moving toward requiring three days of in-office attendance, up from two days, said Kristopher Larson, CEO of Central Houston, which tracks security swipes into buildings.

(The Wall Street Journal

Employees Need to Be Persuaded of Value in Working from the Office

CEOs who want or require their employees to return to the office regularly must earn workers' willingness to commute.

As a result of the pandemic, much has changed in the way office work is perceived and conducted, according to renowned pollster Frank Luntz.

"Employees expect the CEO to 'deserve' my employment and 'deserve' my effort," he said. "It wasn't this way before the pandemic, but now it is across the board. It applies to [the] working class, middle class [and] upper class and in every state in the country. It's the feeling of people in midlevel management or a new employee trainee."

(SHRM Online)

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Return to Work

Making Sense of Why Executives Are Eager to Get Employees Back in the Office

Many executives simply aren't experiencing the same lives of their employees and are falling back on an antiquated view of work to make inferences about what's important for a company to flourish, said Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum and Slack senior vice president.

"Executives have a better setup at work," he noted. "They probably have an office with a door. They probably don't have the same child care issues as many employees. The risk that we run as a society, even in a hybrid work setting, is executives don't listen to employees looking for flexibility and a real proximity bias sets in among people who are at the office and those that aren't."

(CNBC)  

How the Top 10 Fortune 500 Companies Are Bringing Workers Back to the Office

Most have yet to implement an official remote-only or in-person-only strategy, instead easing hesitant workers back into the office with a hybrid policy. But many have been operating with different rules for different types of positions, forcing retail workers back to the front lines a year before requiring corporate employees to return to the office.

Here's a breakdown of the top 10 Fortune 500's return-to-office policies.

(Fortune)

Here's How Companies Are Trying to Lure Workers Back to the Office

With expenses like fuel and food rising rapidly, workers accustomed to saving commuting costs have further reason to want to stay away, handing employers a challenge to increase the appeal of returning to workplace facilities.

(New York Post)

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