As executives push back to the office, everyone is wrong about the future of remote work

Bosses and employees are squabbling over where to get the job done. Executives eager to return to the office suggest that full remote work is coming to an end. The staff insisted it was here to stay despite the fading pandemic fears.

Both sides are correct. Data released this month shows that the long-anticipated return to office (RTO) rate is actually starting to happen, after a number of years. wrong start. But how far it goes remains to be seen, and few expect a return to pre-pandemic normal any time soon.

“September feels like the real return to the office that has been touted for two and a half years,” said Peter Greenspan, WeWork’s global director of real estate. told Bloomberg this week. “You’ve heard, ‘Back to the office, back to the office, now after this holiday, now after this summer. “But new data from his company, he said, shows” the return to the office is stronger than previous ones. “

In the week following Labor Day, bookings at WeWork’s 700 office locations around the world increased 20% from the weekly average, while scratch card usage worldwide 70% increase over the same period last year.

Meanwhile, offices in New York City, almost half full this week, compared to 38% last week and 34.5% two weeks ago. That’s according to Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks keycard swipes in offices across the United States. It also reported that office occupancy nationwide remained stable in about 40% of pre-pandemic levels since spring. That’s unlikely to return to normal, but the company is confident those levels will “rise in the coming months,” according to its website.

The need to return to the office

Meanwhile, CEOs increasingly disagree with remote work, claiming that their workdays are numbered, and asking employees to return to the office.

In the first day of this month, Black stones CEO Larry Fink said his company would “There’s a tougher view of how we get our employees back.” Workers are told they need to come to the office three days a week, there are rarely exceptions and need “official approval”. Fink cites telework as one reason for the drop in productivity in the US – and RTO will help reduce the country’s record inflation.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk now Get detailed weekly reports According to CNBC, after announcing in May that “remote work is no longer acceptable.” The worker was not satisfied with the change, he added at that timeshould “pretend to work somewhere else.”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, meanwhile, continues his long-running business criticism of remote work last month, saying it creates an environment that is less honest and more prone to procrastination. In April, his company said about half of its employees had to return to the office full-time, and the remaining 40% could split their time, with the overall expectation of three face-to-face work days per day. week.

Believers working remotely

Companies are trying to entice workers back into the office with different perksbut there is little indication that workers will fill offices the way they did before the pandemic — or wanted to.

This summer Future forum—A survey of 10,000 knowledge workers across the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK — found that only 20% of them want to work full-time in an office, the lowest during the two-year survey.

Brian Elliott, executive leader of Future Forum, said: “Today’s workplace is centered around flexibility. “Employees who don’t have it are still at great risk of attrition.”

And despite Musk’s “pretend work” digging, many employees still claim that they are more (or equally) productive when working from home, away from distracting offices. According to one survey released this week of the Partnership for New York City, it’s the top reason employers give for why their employees are negative about returning to the office.

The workforce “changes culture”

Looming in the RTO’s battle of wills is the economy. An economic downturn could change the equation of power and force more workers back into the office. “Employees will realize when we go into a recession or when things get a little more stressful, that you have to do what it takes to keep your job and make a living,” real estate developer Stephen Ross property prediction in june.

Whether that prediction is correct and where the economy will go remains to be seen. But the pandemic may have changed things so profoundly that even a recession could not restore the previous order.

“You have a global event that has fundamentally changed the workforce,” author and futurist Brian David Johnson told Luck this month. “What we’re grappling with is a cultural shift.”

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