Success of return to office hinges on understanding what employees want

Some employees are pushing back against the return-to-office mandate because organisations are failing with their employee engagement efforts.
By: | May 26, 2023

Mandated office returns are impacting the workforce, leading to the departure of key employees and recruitment challenges for global employees.

Out of the 72% of organisations worldwide that have enforced office returns, 42% reported higher-than-expected employee attrition, and 29% faced difficulties in recruiting new talent, a study titled Returning for Good, a Unispace Global Workplace Insights Report, has revealed. Although employees are showing less reluctance to return to the office compared to 2022, with a current reluctance rate of 51%, there is still a need to effectively engage the workforce, said Unispace.

Employers, on the other hand, expressed greater confidence in talent attraction activities conducted in the office, particularly in recruitment (89% versus 72%) and training new employees (84% versus 70%), compared to remote work. However, 84% of employers believe that exclusively working from home will limit employees’ career prospects.

Another significant finding of the study is the disconnect between employers and employees regarding workplace needs and values. While 58% of employees struggle to carry out their core job in the office due to distractions, 83% of employers believe that their office setups foster productivity. Employees prioritise aspects such as privacy (31%), the ability to be effective in a quiet environment outside the office (27%) and feeling more productive when working from home (23%). In contrast, employers view the commute as the primary barrier to employees returning to the office.

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Steve Quick, CEO of Unispace, concluded, “Employee work habits continue to evolve as we all adapt in today’s rapidly changing work environment. Employers who take the time to understand what their employees need and value most from their office will be more successful in redefining the power and purpose of that workspace. This will drive strength of culture, brand, employee loyalty and wellbeing, and talent retention.”