Business and political leaders are urging employees to return to the office despite the record-high demand for remote work policies.
“You can’t tell me you’re afraid of Covid on Monday and I see you in a nightclub on Sunday,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams during a speech at the state Democratic Committee’s Nominating Convention. “New Yorkers, it’s time to get back to work.”
Just weeks after the recent Omicron surge, there seems to be growing sentiment that the worst of the pandemic is over. Even officials at the CDC are considering updating mask recommendations, while local governments across the US have been walking back on their restrictions.
While this may indicate that executives have an upper hand in bringing employees back into the office, workers have a different perspective. In fact, professionals are not letting up on their desire for remote working policies, and occupancy numbers reflect this.
According to the Kastle Systems Back to Work Barometer, the top 10 US office markets sat just 30% above pre-pandemic occupancy levels during the first half of February.
However, this coincides with traveling and other in-person attendance rebounding close to pre-pandemic levels.
Still, there appears to be a discrepancy between who wants to return to the office and who doesn’t: Slack’s Future Forum October 2021 quarterly survey showed that executives are nearly three times more likely to want a full return to the office than non-executive employees.
“The view of the office looks different from the top,” said Brian Elliott, Executive Leader of Future Forum. “While executives are banging down the door to get back to their corner offices, non-executive employees are demanding flexibility in where and when they work. Companies must do more to bridge this gap in order to attract and retain top talent.”
The past two years have delivered a clear message to executives that flexibility is a must, and those that do not apply this lesson could be in for a rude awakening.