The Incentives Employees Are Looking For To Return To The Office 

The Covid-19 pandemic completely changed the way we work. Many companies moved their employees home, and while some have returned to the office within the past couple of years, the increase in remote work has remained. For employers who want their workers to come back to a physical workspace, they’ll have to adapt to new accommodations in our new work culture.

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Working from home has become common in our modern work culture. After the Covid-19 pandemic forced workers all over the world to isolate themselves, many companies opted to keep their employees at home indefinitely. While traditional work culture has returned, many employers are struggling to get their employees back in the office. 

For the employees themselves, the transition and experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has created new wants and needs for being in a physical workspace. 

According to a poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and published by Fortune magazine, while companies are struggling to retain employees who don’t want to work in person, only about 13% have introduced new incentives that would encourage employees to work in an office. 

Marjorie Connelly, senior fellow with NORC’s Public Affairs & Media Research department, spoke to The Associated Press and discussed the reasoning behind why more workers prefer working from home.

“Once workers discovered that remote work could be less expensive and… make their life a little easier, they just wanted to keep doing it, even once the pandemic began fading away.”

According to the Associated Press: “About 3 in 4 human resources representatives say that retaining employees who don’t want to work in the office is a problem — including 19% who call it a ‘major problem.’ Another 54% of HR representatives call it a minor problem. And only about one-third of HR professionals say employees at their workplace are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ happy about returning to the workplace.”

The surveys revealed that one of the biggest reasons employees prefer working remotely is due to the fact that they’re able to find an easier work-life balance, and prioritize their own well being. 

Megan Homis, a senior account executive for an advertising and marketing firm in Southern California, told the publication that her work-life balance is the reason she only goes into the office once a month now.

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“With traffic, it’s about an hour and 45 minute drive each way into the office, and on top of that, I have two little kids — so just wrangling childcare for them with drop off and pick up is a lot.”

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Bill Castellano, a professor in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, notes that “flexibility is key — particularly in giving employees agency for scheduling their work. Employees really value more of when to do work vs. where to do work. This is a key benefit for many remote workers today — and could be duplicated in physical offices with the right policy, such as having flexible start times.”

55% of hybrid workers stated in the survey that paying employees more for their in-office work would provide a lot more encouragement to actually return to the office. Additional pay in general was the biggest incentive those surveyed said would motivate them to go back to working in person. 

“Employees who are already going into the office — either entirely or part-time — indicated that other incentives such as commuter benefits, in-office childcare, free food and social gatherings could also add at least “some” more satisfaction with returning to the office,” AP wrote. 

According to a Pew Research Center survey published in March, “35% of workers with jobs that can be completed remotely were working from home all of the time. That’s down from 43% in January 2022 and 55% in October 2020. Still, that’s much higher than the mere 7% recorded before the pandemic.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “72.5% of private-sector establishments, for example, had little to no telework in mid-2022 — up from 60.1% a year earlier.”