Office workers to bosses: I stop when I have to go back to the office full-time

Offices are reopening and employers are urging their employees to return to offices. This is the case for Hannah, a designer who has spent the past year working from a small island in Spain and is now being asked to return to London to spend time in her Mayfair office.

“If they asked me to go back full time now I would try, but based on the two days I spent in the office last week I honestly don’t think I could. I was heartbroken and did significantly less work,” she said.

From Beijing to Boston, employers face a major battle to get their staff back into the office Monday through Friday. In what becomes the biggest workplace dilemma in more than a generation, employees are increasingly willing to walk away from a job as management pushes for a mandatory return to the workplace when offices fully reopen in the coming weeks and months.

According to a survey of 2,700 office workers in nine countries conducted by the polling station Ipsos, more than a third of all office workers would quit if they were forced to return to work full-time in the office. The study interviewed workers from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China and Australia.

And a big warning for multinationals: the gap per country is considerable.

Employees were first introduced to flexible work arrangements last spring when the world abruptly shut down. What the bosses or their staff didn’t know then would lead to a whole new vision of how the work should be done – and the psychology of the workforce is changing with it. For example, respondents in four of the nine countries in the Ipsos survey said that working from home full or most of the time had a very positive impact on people, with the UK and India leading the way. At the other end of the spectrum, many in France, Germany, Italy and Russia prefer the pre-pandemic arrangement.

For Hannah, who asked not to use her last name, working from home had clear advantages: “Now if you’re two minutes late for a meeting, everyone notices. When you’re frustrated, you can’t muffle yourself and moan. and sitting in the same chair in a meeting for half an hour and constantly on. It’s exhausting.”

What remains certain is that hybrid work is here to stay for most parts of the workforce that can. In all countries, 35% of the total office workers interviewed would consider changing jobs if they were not given the opportunity to work remotely.

“I truly believe that we will not go back to the 5 days a week office routine,” said Andrei Postoaca, CEO of Ipsos Digital. “that era has ended.”

Employers can encourage employees to quit (Source IPSOS)

The desire for a hybrid model is most evident in the UK, India and Australia, where around 70% of respondents said their company was open to flexible work policies. European and American employers were not so inclined. In France, the most extreme of all the countries surveyed, a third of companies think their employer would not allow flexibility and almost half of employees wanted to return full-time.

Keeping professional skills up-to-date was also not seen as a problem when working from home by more than half of the sample, but respondents in Germany and France said they struggled to improve their skills in the out-of-office environment. to keep.

The US was the most polarized country surveyed and had the highest number of employees wanting to work remotely, with 21% of employees wanting to work completely remotely and 34% wanting to go back to the office completely.

Ipsos’ Postoaca says the focus is now on the implications of a hybrid work structure and how companies can measure the economic value and efficiency of human connection.

But he is sure of one thing: 5 days a week, 9-5 at the office is finished.

Who’s holding you?t

Employers are at a confusing crossroads. They faced the highest “stop rates” ever recorded in April and May 2021, while at the same time reports show that more than half of respondents missed their colleagues and a third complained of burnout, according to research by the Global Economic Forum.

According to McKinsey, nine in ten executives expect to adopt a hybrid work approach post-pandemic. Of those nine executives, their plans range from a general outline of what they intend to do, at worst, to a high-level plan for how to execute it at its best. Overall, management is still lagging as nearly a third of executives say their organizations are not aligned with a high-level vision of the top team, a problem highlighted in virtual CEO roundtable discussion Fortune held yesterday.

In a study conducted by Fortune with Momentary (formerly known as SurveyMonkey), nearly half of workers (49%) who are still remote or hybrid say they will look for a new job if their employer forces them back to the office after the pandemic. Younger staffers express a greater rejection of returning to the office.

Of baby boomers, 32% say they would look for a new job if their employer required them to return to the office five days a week, while a whopping 57% of millennials would do the same. The very real threat of losing young talent is why so many employers question their return policies.

Jack Kennedy, economist at the global job site Indeed, pointed out that in the UK remote job searches increased by about 400% compared to pre-pandemic levels. “Now that the genie of remote work is out of the bottle, it’s highly unlikely to go back in, and with many people still raising concerns about safety and flexibility becoming increasingly important, it’s not surprising that working at distance has become a deal breaker for many,” he said

Inside technology, companies like Facebook and Amazon recently offered employees more flexibility in their back-to-work policy. Finances are more divided on the issue. In the banking sector Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase implement a strict return policy while: Citigroup promotes its flexible policy and the chairman of NatWest says: London office life will never go back to normal, both in an effort to recruit new talent from competing companies.

This story was originally on Fortune.com