OAKLAND, CA. – The American workforce has learned that for many, working from home works for them and their employers.
Microsoft has asked its employees in Washington state and Silicon Valley to return to their offices on February 28. Since Microsoft has also already allowed some, but not all, employees to work remotely full-time, even they will be doing half of their work in the office. Thus, Microsoft risks losing some or many skilled employees who may seek out other employers who allow more or full remote work.
A survey by Advanced Workplace Associates, a management consulting firm, polled 10,000 technology, energy and finance workers of all ages around the world.
“We learned that we could work from home, that we could work remotely and because we learned that we could, a lot of people want to do it,” said Celeste Tell of Advanced Workplace Associates.
The poll found that only 3% of white-collar workers would return to work five days a week. A further 86% said they want to work from home at least two days a week, with most preferring not to come to the office on Mondays and Fridays.
The implication: many will quit, seek new jobs or retire. “Both an opportunity and a danger in terms of attracting and retaining the workforce you want,” Tell said.
A Conference Board study showed that due to COVID surges, 71% of employers changed their return-to-work plans. He also found that only 9% of employees currently work full-time in their offices. The Bay Area Council, a consortium of the region’s largest employers, surveyed employers about their plans.
“I think the most important thing we’ve learned over the past 10 months is that employers aren’t planning to go back to a five-day, in-person office standard after the pandemics. They’re planning for a new standard of three days a week,” said Kelly Obranowicz of the Bay Area Council.
Only 15% of employers now plan to cut workers back to five days into office hours, a fifth of pre-pandemic levels.
“Employers who start bringing people back to the workplace will likely be further away from what we’re surveying in mid-2022 before we hit this new long-term normal,” Obranowicz said. “It’s brand new. We’re used to operating under best practices and date and we don’t have one because we’ve only been doing it for less than two years,” Tell said.
Other studies show that many workers want a four-day work week.