Six in 10 employers want to bring their employees back to the office full-time within the next three years, according to a new Inside the Workplace survey from FM:Systems. But mandating that return can have a negative impact on employee satisfaction.
Half of the 549 U.S. business leaders FM:Systems surveyed reported that their employees are spending more time in the office than they were last year — 54% said this is due to mandates from management, while 44% cite incentives as the driver of increased in-office attendance. Almost half (46%) of survey participants said they think employee performance is better in the office, and improving company culture was the top reason they pressured employees to return.
To ease the transition back to the office, many companies are choosing office locations wisely. More than half of surveyed leaders said it was important to have an office that’s centrally-located to most of their workers, helping to ease the commute. And 45% felt it important to have a workplace that’s close to amenities, supporting the work-life balance and freedoms employees grew accustomed to while working from home.
However, employers should be cautious about how they encourage employees to come back — a study by the University of Pittsburgh, which looked at a sample of S&P 500 firms, found that 99% of those that issued return-to-office mandates had a decrease in overall employee job satisfaction. Mandates also proved to have little impact on financial performance and values, despite managers predicting significant improvement.
Employees have learned how to be just as efficient at their job while working remotely as they were in the office, if not more so. “When you force people back to the office, which most people don’t like,” said the study’s author Mark Ma, “they react negatively to this mandate because they know they can do the job [remotely].”