The Return to Office Battle Continues
Thursday, July 7, 2022

This week, the Boston Globe and Fortune reported on the ongoing return to office battle between employers (many of whom are seeking a robust return to pre-pandemic work models without further delay) and employees (many of whom are pushing back in meaningful ways, including by voting with their feet, given the increased flexibility and independence they experienced over the past few years).  The Globe's headline?: "It's really a mess." 

Surveys show that two-thirds of the workforce reported that they would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office full-time.  Workers' sentiments with this level of volume can't simply be ignored by employers who are vying for new talent and focused on retaining existing talent -- but employers must also not lose sight of their operational needs and their cultural objectives. From a legal perspective, employers need to ensure that similar types of employees are treated consistently when developing/revising any return to office or hiring expectations, as it is becoming more and more clear that the opportunity to work remotely (fully or partially) is a key condition of employment in 2022.  

Savvy employers will continue to assess and periodically reassess what is working, and what is not working, for both their business and their workers, with respect to remote, in-person, or hybrid work models.  Employers that strategize effectively at this critical moment will be well-positioned as this talent battle rages on. 

Local human resources directors report job candidates are abruptly ending interviews when they find out remote work isn’t an option. One said that a new biotech hire — who agreed to work three days a week in the office but was allowed to work from home for six weeks before moving to the Boston area — abruptly quit following his first 90-minute commute. Nationwide, two-thirds of senior managers want their teams on site every work day, according to a Robert Half survey, while half of employees say they would look for a new job if forced to return full time. The return-to-office/work-from-home tug of war has even spawned an acronym war: RTO vs. WFH.


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